Background information provided to the Pier Trustees on 7th February 2011

 “Benefits from mediated/facilitated victim-offender communication:

Victims have the opportunity to:
  • Learn about the offender and put a face to the crime
  • Ask questions of the offender
  • Express their feelings and needs after the crime
  • Receive an apology and/or appropriate reparation
  • Educate offenders about the effects of their offences
  • Sort out any existing conflict
  • Be part of the criminal justice process
  • Put the crime behind them
Offenders have the opportunity to:
  • Own the responsibility for their crime
  • Find out the effect of their crime
  • Apologise and/or offer appropriate reparation
  • Reassess their future behaviour in the light of this knowledge
Courts have the opportunity to:
  • Learn about victims’ needs
  • Aid reparative purposes in sentencing
Communities have the opportunity to
  • Accept apologies and reparation from offenders
  • Help reintegrate victims and offenders”
(Crosland & Liebmann's “40 Cases: Restorative Justice  and Victim Offender Mediation”, 2003,pvii-viii; this book is freely available at )
In relation to the burning down of Hastings Pier it would be easy for a group of trustees working with an experienced Restorative Practitioner to identify a string of further possible benefits from a restorative process, possibly impacting positively in relation to the wider issue of fires destroying cars and buildings in Hastings.
In Case no 22 of the 40 Cases book:
“The editor of a regional newspaper that featured the story wrote:
‘It is tempting to say to the two boys who have publicly apologised for burning down [the village school] 18 months ago that it’s a bit late now. But they do deserve credit for having the gumption to say sorry in a regional newspaper that circulates in the village. The two secondary school pupils who set fire to a wheelie bin with disastrous consequences also say they are trying hard to put right the harm and damage caused.  The signs are that some good is emerging from this episode – and that is due in no small measure to the enlightened way in which these young offenders have been dealt with by their own community, not least the school by head teacher herself.’ (NB Neither of the boys has re-offended.)”
Total time commitment of 4-8 hours suggested for one Trustee to initiate a restorative process:
  • 1.5 hour's familiarisation with 3 other restorative cases after a fire:
a) Watching “Burning Bridges DVD” (35 mins)
b) Reading the 3 pages of Case 22 in “40 Cases” on-line book.
c) Reading the 8 pages of Case 33 in “40 Cases” on-line book.
  • 1 hour in communication with an experience restorative practitioner about:
a) the choice to let the suspects know that you want to communicate with them
b) the timing & method of communication
c) the relationship of this communication to criminal justice processes
d) the (emotive) content of the communication
  • 1 hour consultation (supported by an experienced restorative practitioner) with whichever criminal justice agency/(practitioner or solicitor) is most relevant depending on the outcome of the hour's preparation above
  • 1 hour spent on and ending up with a letter or three minute webcam/audio/film recording of a message to the two 19 year-olds.
  • Up to 3 hours (as per case 22) to be reserved for a possible meeting with the two 19 year olds &/or others representing them.
  • Up to 1 hour to be reserved for a review meeting eg 3 weeks later to see if people are satisfied with actions that came out of the trustee meeting the 19 year olds &/or others representing them.
The risks of not progressing with restorative processes at this stage include:
  1.  Losing an opportunity because the likelihood of engaging people once they've been sentenced can be lower than at a point whereby it can serve their interests in being able to demonstrate remorseful actions to a court
  2. The delay in the whole truth coming out. (Note that restorative processes bring out a different kind of truth from the kind of facts involved in 'legal truth' which may enable a conviction, yet leaves many questions unanswered eg about why the people involved did what they did and what understanding they have of the effects and the possibility of taking responsibility).
  3. That which fills the void of truth is a significant number of members of the community being misinformed and disengaged; maintaining views such as “it ws an insurance job”. Alongside this breeds mistrust of the HPWRT and HPWRT initiatives for the new pier.
Other pages on this blog:
Mediation Support at Southwater Community Centre
Action for Happiness -A Good Week
Paul C -AKA Lend-It-All Man
Why Move to Hastings?