This case study was originally published on the West Midlands RJ Hub.
Offence and Referral Details
This case was a community resolution referred by West Midlands police. During a classroom debate in relation to terrorism, the victim made a comment which was deemed by the offender to be racist, the offender then went on to assault the victim.
Our first steps
The case was referred into the West Midlands RJ Hub and allocated to Remedi. Once received, we began the case by calling the referring police officer to gather all necessary details on the case. Once we were assured that victim contact was appropriate, the victim was called. We spoke to both him and his father the victims were expecting the call, and happily agreed to meet with us. As the victim was under 18, we required his parent’s consent and the parents were present at the meeting.
Next, I called offenders mother, she also said she had been expecting the call. We then spoke with the offender and arranged to meet both offender and his mother. Like the victim, the offender was under 18, hence parental consent and presence was required.
To begin, we met with the offender and his mother for the initial assessment. Throughout, the offender expressed taking full responsibility for his role in the offence and acknowledged it could have had a huge effect on the victim. The offender believed communicating with the victim would motivate him not to reoffend, as well as allowing him to apologise. The offender explained that he was angry at the time as he believed the victim had insulted his religion, he now accepts that even if the victim did insult his religion, he has no right to assault him. During the assessment offender said that other students at college, who are friends of the victim, have threatened him. This posed concerns to the offender, as one of these individuals was known to carry a knife. This was reported through Remedi’s Safeguarding Policy and onto the referring officer who said he would note in the system and keep an eye on the situation.
Following this, myself and colleague met with victim and his father for the victim initial meeting. We informed Victim that the mother of offender was sorry for what had happened and wanted him to know that. Once the victim knew the offender wanted to apologise, he agreed to direct RJ.
As the incident took place at the college we thought it may be a good place to hold the direct conference, I called the college and spoke to the tutor of both pupils who agreed it would be good to have the conference at the college and asked if she could attend to support the conference as both parties are under the age of 18 which after checking with both victims and offender and their parents was agreed.
The victim and offender were met several more times in order to ensure they were both fully prepared for the direct meeting.
On the day of direct meeting, one practitioner met with victim at college, did a run through of what would be happening and set the room up. The victim was anxious but was ready to get the meeting completed and was made aware he had our full support. The second practitioner collected the offender from home with his parent, did some preparation with him to ensure he was ready for the process, then brought him to the college. The College tutor was present throughout the meeting, who had also been impacted by the offence within her class room. She thanked everyone for attending and the bravery it took for them to get to this point. We then did an introduction of everyone in meeting, went over the rules for the meeting. Following the preparation, the victim opened with a statement telling offender how the incident had impacted him, made him feel angry and caused his behaviour. The victim was able to further discuss with the offender, the effects on his feelings, and education. The offender was able to apologise and explain his thoughts before and after the offence, and how he felt hearing the information the victim had told him. It was a shock to the offender to hear the victim had family whom are of the same ethnicity and religion as the offender. Both the victim and the offender together came up with an outcome agreement to try and resolve any issues if a disagreement arose between them in the future.
Following the meeting the offender spoke about how going through the process made him realise the impact it had on the victim he realises how the consequences of his actions extended to beyond the physical hurt of the assault. He thinks this process will help prevent him from ever entering a similar situation in the future; as he got involved for believing what his friend had said at face-value and didn’t really question how true it was. He also said that he never would have believed his friend had he known the victim had family who were the same faith as the offender. He says that this process has made him realise that he needs to question what other people say and not just believe them because they are his friends. Feedback from the victim was that he needed to get this of his chest, and he was glad he could give the offender “a piece of his mind” without being physical he said he now feels a sense of relief after hearing the offender’s apology.