I joined Bedfordshire Police in 2010, and the last seven and a half years have flown by! The majority of my career so far has been spent on Community and Response Policing. I joined the Restorative Justice Unit in March 2017.
I absolutely loved Response Policing and even though Response have a huge demand with fewer officers I still believe it is a great place to work, the team work and support from fellow officers is outstanding.
Sadly in 2013 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and since then I have had surgery every year. I have
also recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, this led to me making the decision to come away from Response Policing, I had to accept the long hours and shift work was having a detrimental effect on my illnesses. Bedfordshire Police has really looked after me since my diagnosis and supported me in every way they could, even making changes within the organisation to help me continue with my career.
So when I was presented with the opportunity to join the Restorative Justice Unit I jumped at the chance. I have always had a keen interest in Restorative Justice and a few years ago I read a couple of books on Restorative Justice, one of the books was called The Damage Done by Peter Woolf, Peter was a career criminal and a drug user. He was arrested and sent to prison for Burglary offences. Whilst in Prison Peter took part in a Restorative Justice conference with one of his victims of Burglary. From this conference Peter completely changed his life, he is now a consultant for Restorative Justice and works with many organisations, including the police, delivering awareness of Restorative Justice.
Restorative Justice (RJ) is so important for victims of crime, it is also part of the Victims Code of Practice and should be offered to every victim of crime. Throughout the Criminal justice process there is very little opportunity for the victim to have their say, but RJ gives the victim a voice. It allows them to put questions to the offender in a controlled facilitated conference and allows the victim to ask ‘why me?’
More importantly it helps the victim overcome the crime and reduces the chance of the victim suffering with PTSD. I have watched victims grow with confidence whilst taking part in the conference and it is absolutely amazing to see. It is so powerful for the victim to be able to get answers to their questions. Also just as powerful, is watching the offender realise the harm they have caused the victim and in some instances the offender has broken down in tears when that realisation hits them of how much harm they have caused the victim.
After the conference there is a period where all parties can talk freely with each other, this is amazing to watch as the victim and offender talk together and discuss the future. The offender will often agree to take steps to change and repair some of the harm done to the victim. It is just beautiful to see the fear leave the victim and watch them chat openly with each other.
RJ is not new, it has been around for many years. I am so pleased we are using it as I have seen first-hand how it changes lives. In June of this year I passed my Conference Facilitator training so I will now be able to facilitate conferences myself.
I really support the forces vision on taking RJ forward. RJ processes can be used in so many environments like schools, colleges, and work places and I look forward to being part of the vision of having a Restorative Bedfordshire not just Restorative Justice in Bedfordshire Police.
Constable Chris Turner – Restorative Justice Conferencing Unit