restorative justice update for the HPWRT in June 2011

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
1.what happened?
2.what they were trying to do when it happened? 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

(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: )

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.

an open invitation to clear your names

The following comment was added to this blog:
"Why not offer the two 19 year olds an open invitation to clear their names on this site? 'My six months of hell as an innocent man', 'At last, a chance to share in the town's grief for the loss of its historic heart.'I know that if I was innocent of this sort of serious charge, I'd be setting up a website myself to set the record straight."
Your opportunity to talk about that is here; add comments or send YouTube web link. The coverage could have your face in it, or not, as you prefer. 

the longest book never written

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'"
We live in an age whereby as well as writing statements, anyone affected has the option of recording YouTube videos (anonymously or more publically); so my questions are:
  1.  Where is the material for those who were on the pier to watch or read so they can get a sense of what the impact was? 
  2. What we can all do to move on in our lives, once the harm has been acknowledged and justice done?
Having shown the pier trustees a film called 'Burning Bridges' (about community meetings to deal with the consequences of an arson on a historic wooden bridge) in January 2011, by April (and before the lottery decision and the Crown Prosecution System's decision to drop the case against two individuals) Ray Chapman, chair of the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust, recorded a video for those who were on the pier on the night of the fire. (That video is stored privately).

Now that Mediation Support Ltd (whose CEO, Paul Crosland, edits this blog), have moved into the Southwater Area Community Centre, Ray Chapman called in to record this public film about Hastings Justice:

If you want to see the words from Ray Chapman's YouTube video in print, here they are:
"Hi, I'm Ray, the chair of trustees  of the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust and this is a communication to those of you who were on Hastings Pier on 5th October 2010. 
Some of our trustees have been involved in the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust for over four years in preparing the business case for the Heritage Lottery Foundation, in partnership with the Hastings Borough Council and English Heritage.
We have obviously heard repeatedly from a number of sources particular names and also a rumour that there may be more than two of you who were on the pier that night. If you were on the Pier on  5th October 2011, we have a conversation to have, its is in the interests of our community that we  get a clear understanding of what happened on the pier that night.  Many people were effected and want to live in a community without buildings catching alight under mysterious circumstances.  The key is now for the town to get the pier up and running again as soon as possible. I hope that you'll be able to engage with the community and build bridges. 
I've seen  a film made in America called 'Burning Bridges' where six young men burnt a heritage bridge and they met with the community and got a deeper understanding of how everyone was affected. The community supported them to carry on living in that area and contributing to get them involved to repair the bridge. Who knows what the community will have, or even you will have, for us all to have a better future in Ore, St Leonards and Hastings? We learned, sadly. that not 'everyone loves the pier'. However some of the ideas from the recent consultation include concerts, raves, music, theme park rides and scoring most boat trips, cruising, lagoon, fishing, angling and green energy encompassing our heritage and also engineering and tourism for our local education providers. What do you think?
I am aware that other members of the community will be watching this and will have been affected by the pier fire. You too can also voice an opinion publicly or privately that will be passed on in due course to those people whose names we have been given.
The way we are doing this safely is through the -website  "
If you care to help this process, then please add a comment to this blog post. Alternatively, submit words and video eg via or just straight to YouTube, and drop a line to the mediation support ltd email or the peoplesjustice email so that I can put your message on this page.