This case study was originally published on the West Midlands RJ Hub.
Offence and Referral details
This case was one of Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving. As a result of the offence, the victim sustained numerous serious injuries, and another victim sadly died. The offender, through his Offender Supervisor, referred himself for Restorative Justice whilst in custody upon hearing there was a new service available.
Our first steps
The first step to progress the case was to conduct an Initial Assessment of the offender. The offender stated that Restorative Justice is something that he had continually asked for since being sentenced and that he wanted to take part in order to apologise to the victim and explain that there was no intention to hurt anyone. The offender explained that the offence was as a result of him taking his mother’s car without her permission and not knowing how to use the windscreen wipers, causing him to swerve and crash into the victims.
Due to the case being Sensitive and Complex in nature, it was necessary to see if any other partner agencies were working with the victim before contacting him. After confirming that the victim was not receiving support from a Victim Liaison Officer, initial contact was made by Remedi within the West Midlands RJ Hub, the victim was keen to meet to discuss RJ further.
During the Initial Assessment, the victim described how it had been a ‘normal working day’, until he found himself waking up injured on the other side of the road. The victim stated he had always wondered since it happened whether a service like Remedi’s existed, and that he wanted to take part in Restorative Justice to explain the impact to the offender and to give him some advice for the future.
Although the victim did not have any specific questions for the offender, there were topics of conversation that it was important to prepare both parties for prior to the direct conference taking place. It was necessary to prepare the victim for hearing that the offender had briefly fled the scene following the offence. Additionally, it was important to prepare the offender for hearing that the surviving victim and deceased victim had swapped places just prior to the moment of impact.
The direct conference was facilitated in a private room at the National Probation Service office that the offender attends. After introductions and an explanation of the ground rules, the victim began by explaining events from his perspective. The victim described to the offender the impact, both physical and mental, that the offence had on him, including his injuries and recovery. Although the victim stated that he knew the offender’s actions were not intentional, he also stated that he had never heard why the offender had crashed, and so this was followed by the offender explaining events from his perspective. Other topics of conversation then followed, including: – the ripple effect felt by the victim’s family, the offender’s use of his time in prison, and an apology from the offender which was accepted by the victim. The direct conference finished with the victim and offender embracing each other and wishing each other the best for the future.
After allowing some time for both parties to reflect upon the direct conference, feedback was obtained from both the victim and the offender. As for the victim, he felt that the meeting could not have gone any better, both for himself and for the offender. The victim stated that hearing the offender speak about how he lost control of the car allowed him to gain a better sense of the whole situation and in turn, allowed him to have closure. The V went on to state that he was surprised by how much he got out of Restorative Justice, explaining how he did not go in to the meeting hoping to get answers or closure, but that ultimately, he was provided with both.
In terms of the offender’s feedback, the offender agreed with the victim’s assessment that the meeting could not have gone better and stated that he was very glad to have taken part. The offender also stated that since taking part in Restorative Justice, he thinks about the offence less. The offender explained that now, when he thinks about the offence, he thinks about the meeting with the victim and so can think about what he has done in a more positive way.