Restorative Justice update for the Pier Trustees -June 2011
(written by Paul Crosland, Mediation Support Ltd)
In brief, restorative justice seeks to:
- Repair harm
- Restore dignity of individuals
- Re-integrate all into peaceful co-existence
The restorative processes that enable the best outcomes are when people communicate
2.what they were trying to do when it happened?
3.how they can see ways in the future to improve the safety and well-being of all individuals whom those in communication actually care about.
The process of communication can be expected to widen the range of people whom those participating care about and to be a source of creative, unforeseen, ways forward, which build a stronger community and less chance of others' “victimisation”.
All organisations and ad-hoc gatherings of people have a way of doing justice. Restorative Justice here in Hastings opens a wider enquiry into what justice means to each of us, how much of it is delivered in community and how much is provided by the state. With no-one being charged for the pier fire, clearly there is a sense that the state's provision of justice has let the community down.
The 3rd June 2011 Hastings Observer, on page 20, reported Cllr Godfrey Daniel suggesting that
"if a witness statement about the impact of the crime on all those affected was taken, it would be 'longer than most books in the universe'"
In the 10th June 2011 Hastings Observer, my reply letter: ”We need to act if we want justice” reported that I have been actively collecting victim impact statements. Ray recorded his as well and it is posted at http://sussexcommunity.blogspot.com/2011/06/longest-book-never-written.html
(NB To see the full text of the 10th June Observer letter, you get this automatically sent if you subscribe to the free Mediation Support Ltd email newsletter: www.mediationsupport.info/subscribenewsletter.html )
What happens in Hastings in the wake of a collapsed case of prosecution has potentially wide implications for other instances of collapsed legal cases elsewhere in the UK. I have met with Amber Rudd and written to get clarity, amongst other things, about the legal status of information passed to mediators.
My sense is that the justice story around Hastings Pier could, over the coming years, be a key part of the education that that pier provides. There may yet be a great story to tell, particularly if more conversations start happening in these towns about effective ways of processing a sense of having been harmed by someone else's actions.
The wish for justice could be expressed by more people modelling the change they want to see. If they want those on the pier 5th October to take responsibility for what they did, I am suggesting that we each take responsibility for something we did in the past. A weight will lift from the town if more people work through their repressed conflicts. In the simple words of some material from the new organisation with a strong local group: 'Action for Happiness' -”Say sorry; you know who to!” That could be a message emanating from the pier across town.
My request of the trustees is that you each phone me within the month & arrange to meet to discuss the impact of the fire, and possibly record a film or a message to one or more members of the community which, I suggest, has yet to find an effective way to move on from a sense of injustice.
Arranging a group viewing of the film 'Burning Bridges' sets the tone well for a discussion of the community-building process that can come in the wake of such a fire.