Restoration or cop out?

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Restoration or cop out?

Post  Chris on Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:40 am

restorative justice

Interesting article, thoughts anyone.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Wayne Harrison on Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:10 am

I havn't read the article Chris, cause i'm busy, but will deffo try later.

In general I favour RJ for sure. When I was in the gangs it was so easy to depersonalise the crimes. There was never no taking into account the damage done to victims. Save for maybe one or two sentences in a witness statement. The criminals were soo tied up in their own personal drama. Which is a lack of personal responsibility. No compassion can come from that. Remorse? Oh sure. When the criminal looses life factors, e.g. wife, kids, home, freedom. These can be readily reinstated, or replaced in some way. It is a more temporary remorse than what can come from a genuine feeling of guilt.

We never came face to face with victims, save for the actual attack. Had we, would it have changed things? I cant say for sure. Likely no, for a lot. Yet it would have gave an option for potential. The criminal is at their most highest level of growth - criminally, yet their most weakest individually (susceptible for rehabilitation), whilst in prison. While there can be no easy answers or even single solutions to rehabilitation, I was there when there was no RJ, and victim impact just did not register, as it was not in our world. It cant' be a bad thing, it's effectiveness i ain't saw the data.

warmest wishes

Wayne
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Dave on Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:37 am

Restorative Justice has its place amongst modern day Policing. But for me it should only be used in those few cases when the victim will not support a Police prosecution (ie not give a statement) and / or does not wish to go to court. If the victim supports Police action then there are other ways that crime can be dealt with.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Mr Nobody on Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:44 pm

Restorative justice is softly softly, tree hugging, left wing apologist crap in my opinion. It doesn't prevent crime, instead you are just giving them a soft "penalty" and they aren't held accountable for their actions.

Tougher jail sentences reduce crime. Protect the community and lock them up.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Wayne Harrison on Wed May 01, 2013 1:46 am

Definitely tougher sentences is one option, though studies in USA and Australia imply that offending rates stay relatively the same with an increase in prison sentences .

RJ on it's own isn't enough, though governments and society feel that prison isn't working either. I'm not sure what is expected in a growing population, perhaps the media has something to account for the idea prison doesn't work.

RJ is another example of an attempt to rehabilitate offenders. Prison is a great place to learn about crime. I learnt how to crack safes, beat all current (then) alarms, and carry out armed robberies, and steal all carsi in prison. By necessity I feel prison must exist, yet it carries it's own dangers for society, placing criminals in close proximity.

If there is no rehabilitation, even better, if there is no attempt at rehabilitation, then society runs the risk of a much improved and better networked criminal coming out of prison.


While there are no single solutions to crime, It really is easier for a criminal to carry on doing what they are, if they are not aware of the full impact of their crimes.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Chris on Wed May 01, 2013 3:30 am

The concept of restorative justice isn't a new one. It's been part of the criminal justice system for as long as I can remember. Bring the victim into the room and have them sit with the criminal while they explain the impact of the crime on their lives.

I am sure that for some victims of crime it is a tremendously useful outlet for the emotional trauma.
For some criminals I am sure they will actually feel some empathy and probably come out of the room having been touched on one level by the victims statements.
For some criminals it will be a charade which they play a part in from the perspective of self interest. Getting what they can when they can out of taking part.

That's all fine and I don't have a massive issue with any of it. Both victim and criminal have to agree to the proceedings and I am sure it can have a positive result.

What bothers me is the use of restorative justice as a means to control statistics in the criminal justice system. AND... allowing the police service even greater powers to control when and how criminal proceedings in court take place. If you were a victim of a crime would you want a police officer deciding whether the case went to court. If you were someone who found themselves on the wrong end of a charge (say an assault charge when you maintain self defence) would you want a a police officer deciding how proceedings progressed. Especially when police service success is measured via a political numbers game. I'm not knocking coppers here they will be the first ones to state that they are wrapped up tight in red tape, political machinations and the requirement to hit moving targets.

As far as self protection goes. Wouldn't you like to know what basis a police officer may have for making a decision on whether a case involving assault, actual bodily harm or affray (I have seen some fairly serious injuries in assault cases) actually goes to court?

It's another factor to understand if you want to understand the likely impact of being involved in a violent event.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Wayne Harrison on Wed May 01, 2013 3:55 am

Chris wrote:The concept of restorative justice isn't a new one. It's been part of the criminal justice system for as long as I can remember. Bring the victim into the room and have them sit with the criminal while they explain the impact of the crime on their lives.


I'm interested in this Chris. It definitely wasn't being used in Northern Ireland in the years approx. 1991-2001. None of our guys, or anyone we were in prison with encountered it. It was has been used in England on an on-going basis?

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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Chris on Wed May 01, 2013 4:01 am

It's a guesstimate but I would say that I have seen elements of restorative justice in action for at least the last ten years, probably more.

Specifically, I have seen it used as part of what would be considered "community orders" and under the probation service remit. For low level criminal activity in my experience. Not as an alternative to criminal sentencing and the judicial process, as part of the end result sentence where the goal is rehabilitaton.

I have no first hand experience of it being used with more serious criminal activity. Though I am aware that it was used as part of the peace process in NI so I am surprised if you haven't come across it yourself Wayne. Some "terrorists" were brought into contact with families and victims of their behaviour as part of the "peace process". I know very little about it other than it happened with the permission of all parties.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Wayne Harrison on Wed May 01, 2013 4:17 am

Chris wrote:

Specifically, I have seen it used as part of what would be considered "community orders" and under the probation service remit. For low level criminal activity in my experience. Not as an alternative to criminal sentencing and the judicial process, as part of the end result sentence where the goal is rehabilitaton.

With ya on this, there's something in my mind about the non-custodial process.

Chris wrote:
I have no first hand experience of it being used with more serious criminal activity. Though I am aware that it was used as part of the peace process in NI so I am surprised if you haven't come across it yourself Wayne. Some "terrorists" were brought into contact with families and victims of their behaviour as part of the "peace process". I know very little about it other than it happened with the permission of all parties.

I can't remember it ever being an option for more serious crimes. Though am not surprised it was used in the peace process. They got their model from the South African one. I was in HMP Maze in 1999/2000 (not as a terrorist/political prisoners/freedom fighter or anything like that). I remember that there was a huge emphasis on getting the prisoners out. And the prisoners had a heck of a lot of clout in negotiating the ceasefires. They could make or break deals. And it really was a carrot and stick approach. For example, when I was in the Maze, prisoners got shop 4 days a week, keys to own cell doors, could stay up all night (and party, etc), phones were on 24 hours, and got home leave every second weekend. The British government offered all prisoners home leave every friday-monday. The talk was that Michael Stone, the then UDA leader in the Maze, refused to cast his vote on decommissioning, so all prisoners stayed with leave every other weekend.

Generally if the prisoner was claimed by any of the H block commanders in any terrorist group, they would be transferred to the Maze. The crimes may be the same as any other serious crime, but once in the Maze you came under the peace process in various ways. They were treated different by the state. In effect, they were treated better than ordinary class. different situation different rules I guess.

warmest wishes

Wayne
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Chris on Fri May 03, 2013 4:14 am

From a self protection perspective I suppose there are two main topic to consider.

- This may mean that someone who is violent towards you does not proceed through the criminal justice system to the sentencing guidelines you could expect from the Magistrates court. I am confident that those offences which are indictable only would never be an issue but there is a LOT of scope for violent behaviour to be included in this scheme.

This may mean that where you are violent against someone else you are faced with the possibility of police decision making rather than justice via trial.

I am broadly uncomfortable with taking sentencing out of the hands of the judiciary simply because there are so many controls, checks and balances in play. I accept that there may be a place for alternatives which provide logical resolution to the issue of sentencing for certain criminal offences. I just do not see that this is AS viable when dealing with offences where violence is in play.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Chris on Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:14 am

Just as an addition to this topic in general.

I was in court a couple of weeks ago and word came round that the following event had taken place.

An accused was convicted and found guilty of a crime. He was sentenced (community order medium band) and ordered to see the probation service before he left the courthouse. He proceeded to walk up to a random stranger in the public seating area of the court and punch him in the face. Twice.
Police who were in attendance as witnesses in the proceedings and had observed the "assault" intervened and restrained him. They decided they did not want to arrest and charge him. Arguing with the clerk of the court that he should simply be released....

Needless to say, the Clerk and the Judiciary in attendance demanded that he be arrested and charged. What sentence (if any) he subsequently receives I can't even guess at.

My point is this. Criminal Justice (especially where the perceived injury or loss is "minimal") is a numbers game for all concerned... not least of all the police service. Be prepared, you may have to stand your ground and push for things to happen if you are on the receiving end of criminal activity. There is very little appetite for adding more more cases to anyone's workload. sadly.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Mr Nobody on Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:30 am

As a cop, I'm shocked to hear the cops that witnessed that incident didn't want to charge him. I would most definitely have done so had I witnessed such an incident.

The mind boggles. Evil or Very Mad 
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Dave on Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:29 am

Chris wrote:Just as an addition to this topic in general.

I was in court a couple of weeks ago and word came round that the following event had taken place.

An accused was convicted and found guilty of a crime. He was sentenced (community order medium band) and ordered to see the probation service before he left the courthouse. He proceeded to walk up to a random stranger in the public seating area of the court and punch him in the face. Twice.
Police who were in attendance as witnesses in the proceedings and had observed the "assault" intervened and restrained him. They decided they did not want to arrest and charge him. Arguing with the clerk of the court that he should simply be released....

Needless to say, the Clerk and the Judiciary in attendance demanded that he be arrested and charged. What sentence (if any) he subsequently receives I can't even guess at.

My point is this. Criminal Justice (especially where the perceived injury or loss is "minimal") is a numbers game for all concerned... not least of all the police service. Be prepared, you may have to stand your ground and push for things to happen if you are on the receiving end of criminal activity. There is very little appetite for adding more more cases to anyone's workload. sadly.
1) Surely it is not the Police's decision whether the male is arrested, they have witnessed the attack and can confirm a criminal offence has taken place. It is the victims decision whether he / she wants to support any police action for an assault. Even if he / she didn't support police action the offender could and should be arrested for other such offences such as Public Order etc especially when there are witnesses other than the victim and as I would imagine in a court CCTV.

2) It is not the up to the Police officers who witnessed the incident or the Clerk and the Judiciary to decide if the offender gets 'charged' This decision will be mafe by someone further down the line, be it a custody Sgt or more probably someone from the Criminal Prosecution Service. It will all depend on the evidence available and what was said on interview.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Chris on Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:46 am

1) it's always a question for officers whether someone is detained/arrested. You would perhaps be very surprised to know exactly how many incidents involving threats, violence and abusive behaviour or verbals are handled at the responding officer level. The new officer guidance on the use of cautions has made for much debate in the CJS and most are not happy with how current discretionary powers are being exercised. In this instance the officer in attendance was prepared to draw a line under the incident and let the guy throwing punches at the public gallery members leave the court house without any further action. Intervention from court officers forced further action in the face of a clear criminal action.

2) arrest and charge are two different things but in pursuing criminal proceedings in order to progress you have to detain the suspect. Tell them they are being detained and are not free to leave and tell them why. I.e. which offence the officer feels has potentially been committed. The charge the detainee ultimately faces(if any) will be recorded later officially. In this instance the clerk of the court made it clear that there were obvious and clear grounds for arrest and they would be closely following the incident with both the Police and the CPS did their job correctly in accordance with process. Fear of report to seniors for dereliction of duty has a way of sharpening the mind!!

It's an isolated example of a pig lazy copper and also an institutional issue with the use of discretionary powers to get out of doing work. In general officers are also under pressure to where possible keep "customers" out of a busy system and off the stats. Criminal Justice in the UK is a numbers game.
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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Jake331 on Sat Oct 26, 2013 5:32 am

the main point to consider IMHO is - does it work? ie does it cut crime, do criminals re-offend less with "community resolutions" type actions when compared to more traditional methods? I don't really care if something seems a bit liberal or touchy feely, as long as it works!

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Re: Restoration or cop out?

Post  Chris on Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:12 am

Jake331 wrote:the main point to consider IMHO is - does it work? ie does it cut crime, do criminals re-offend less with "community resolutions" type actions when compared to more traditional methods? I don't really care if something seems a bit liberal or touchy feely, as long as it works!
I am inclined to believe the point of view that for certain people this will be a useful exercise. I'm like you, I'm really only interested in reduction in offending however that reduction can be made. I will say that from personal experience the vast majority of "criminals" are habitual and incorrigible. They really have no finer feelings to appeal to and self interest is their only interest. They truly will never be anything other than a drain to the society they prey on.

That said, there are some offenders who I have thought respond well to community based orders and appear to have the level of remorse and empathy that would make meeting their "victims" faced to face a useful exercise... especially at a young age. Whether this means that they would not have re-offended anyway regardless of meeting their victim or whether face to face meetings are another brick in the foundation of them choosing a law abiding lifestyle then I don't know. Can't hurt.

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