Remedi, the company that provides restorative justice (RJ) and mediation services across the county celebrated its first anniversary on Monday 17 July.
To mark the occasion police and partners joined together for an event at Cheshire Police HQ, celebrating what they have achieved over the past 12 months - having supported more than 350 victims and offenders.
Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, David Keane, who funds RJ services in Cheshire, said: “One of my Police and Crime Priorities is supporting victims and protecting the vulnerable - making sure they are fully informed and supported from the moment a crime takes place through to the end of the process, in many cases this could include RJ.
“Being a victim of crime can be difficult and traumatic for anyone, and everyone deals with it in different ways, which is why we must ensure that we provide all the services and support that victims require.
“Although it may not be for everyone, some people can only move forward with their lives once they have had their questions about a crime answered – which is why I believe that RJ is such a vital service.”
Since the introduction of Remedi the service has changed beyond recognition. It is more focused on bringing those affected by crime or conflict, and those responsible together; enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
Lisa Gill, Manager for the Remedi hub in Cheshire, said; “It provides victims with a chance to be heard and allows them to understand what the offender is thinking and gain answers to questions that often burden them long after the crime has taken place.”
One success story they heard about at the event was the case of ‘Sue’ (not her real name) who was threatened with a knife during a bank robbery in Cheshire.
Sue said: “Following the incident I was too scared to go anywhere, even undertaking simple activities like visiting friends was really difficult. I would just walk down the street and look at strangers thinking is that him? Is that the robber?
“It affected everything, my mental health deteriorated, I was diagnosed with PTSD and I kept having nightmares. All my thoughts led back to the day the incident took place, causing anxiety, palpitations and paranoia and bouts of depression; all of which impacted on my family and partner.
“However, having taken part in the RJ process I can genuinely say I have not thought about the incident since. It’s now my choice whether or not to think about it, it’s a peaceful feeling.
“I can honestly say that having taken part in RJ, if I saw him in the street I’d probably say hello and ask him how he’s doing; although, I would still be untrusting and suspicious of his manner.”
As well as hearing some of the success stories those attending the event also heard about plans moving forward. These include the development of the ‘Restorative Thinking’ programme, a new service in partnership with the Prison Service, which encourages offenders to think about the crime they have committed and the impact it had on the victims and their families.
Closing the conference David added: “I would like to congratulate Remedi for the success that they have had over the past 12 months and thank them for all of the support they have provided.”