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The Power of Restorative Justice: A Journey to Healing

Restorative Justice is a concept that’s been gaining real traction in recent years, focusing on reconciliation and healing for both the victim and the offender. Here we share the story of how Restorative Justice worked for Gemma, the victim of a terrifying late-night robbery, and Rob, one of the men behind the robbery.


Gemma Bailey, 37, was working at a petrol station in Teesside in December 2016 when she experienced a horrifying incident as she was preparing to close up for the evening. Two men walked into the petrol station and, initially thinking they were last-minute customers, Gemma soon realised they were armed and had other intentions.  One man held a knife to her neck before they both made off with money and alcohol.  Despite the trauma, Gemma managed to keep her composure but the event left her emotionally traumatised and it took a toll on her mental health.

She was initially hesitant to seek assistance, but eventually understood that she couldn’t work through it alone.


The Path to Restorative Justice

Through a referral system involving local prisons and probation services, Gemma was introduced to the concept of restorative justice. This approach gave her the choice to communicate with one of the men responsible for her trauma. She could choose the form of communication, whether face-to-face or through letters, giving her a sense of control; something she felt she had lost.


Gemma chose to meet her offender face-to-face. The man, named Rob, was willing to take responsibility for his actions and wanted to do whatever he could to help Gemma heal. During the meeting, Gemma was able to express her feelings and the impact the incident had on her life. Rob listened, took ownership of his actions, and expressed genuine remorse.


The Impact of Restorative Justice

The meeting had a profound impact on both Gemma and Rob. For Gemma, it was a cathartic experience that helped her move forward. She also felt that meeting Rob would help deter him from reoffending. For Rob, the meeting was a wake-up call, making him confront the consequences of his actions directly.


Following his conviction, Rob has remained focused on making amends to those harmed by his offence and in demonstrating his firm commitment to change. Following his personal engagement in Restorative Justice (RJ), Rob became an RJ Ambassador, promoting access to the approach and its benefits, both within custody and in the community.  It is in recognition of his outstanding achievements that we nominated Rob for a Ruth Cranfield Award.


Rob’s determination not to re-offend and to maintain a prosocial lifestyle is of real credit, and in fact, the continued success of his employment meant that he was unable to attend the Awards Ceremony, held at the Durham County Cricket ground on the 14th of September.


Gemma was proud to accept the Award on his behalf, as an incredible accolade to the power of RJ in repairing harm caused by crime and in supporting the process of rehabilitation.

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