Conspiracy to Burgle
This case was referred to our service via the Officer In Charge as the harmer had contacted him wishing to try to apologise to the harmed. An initial meeting was held with the harmer where it was disclosed that the harmer had been in a relationship with a prolific burglar and had been involved as a ‘look out’ for a burglary. The harmer disclosed substance misuse at the time of the incident which she was now engaging in a 12 step recovery programme and was now substance free. She wished to make amends for what she had done. Due to the harmers substance misuse she could remember very few details about what happened and we were unsure as to who the harmed person was due to limited police involvement and possible multiple offences.
Extensive research occurred to locate the details of the harmed person. This included discussions with the OIC, searching the police database and cross referencing details that the harmer could remember. This search was successful in identifying the harmed person.
The harmed person in this case was elderly, and due to the number of years that had elapsed since the incident we were unsure of the current situation of the harmed person. Therefore we made contact with the harmed persons son in the first instance. A telephone call was held with the son who informed us the harmed was still alive and would be willing to speak to us. A telephone call was then held with the harmed who was willing to meet to discuss further.
Initial meeting was held with the harmed to discuss RJ and explain why the harmer wished to communicate. The harmed was open to a direct process alongside the harmer.
Preparation work occurred with both parties to get them ready for a direct meeting. RJ questions of what happened, thoughts and feelings at the time and now and who was impacted and how were explored with both parties. A number of questions and indirect communication was also shared prior to the conference.
The process was put on hold for a number of months due to the harmed falling ill. During this time the harmed made it clear that she still wished to engage and indirect communication was shared between both parties.
Once the harmed was well and ready to continue a final meeting was held with both parties to discuss final logistics for the conference. All parties still wished to go ahead and therefore the conference was arranged.
The conference was held in a community centre local to the harmed person due to limited mobility. The harmed entered the room first followed by the harmer (at the request of the harmed). The facilitators started the meeting and asked the harmer the restorative questions first to allow the harmed to listen to the responses, the same questions were then asked to the harmed. Conversation flowed between the participants and questions and answers were shared with minimal input from the facilitators. The harmed person was able to share the impact the incident had had on her including the loss of her husbands wedding ring. The harmer apologised to the harmed which was accepted. The meeting was brought to a close with an agreement made between parties that the harmer would share her telephone number with the harmed and the harmed may make contact in the future. Offer of financial repatriation was made by the harmer which was declined by the harmed, however there was an offer of possible help with gardening in the future. The meeting ended and both parties stayed for refreshments and continued conversations for an additional hour. Upon leaving the venue both parties engaged in a hug.
Check in calls were made 24-48 hours after the conference and follow up meetings were held with both parties around a week later. Both participants were happy with how the conference went and felt that they got everything they wanted from the process. The harmers telephone number was shared with the harmed as per the outcome agreement. Both parties provided positive feedback of the process.
Feedback from participants
The harmed was glad to have participated as she could put it all behind her now. Her expectations had been met which were primarily around knowing that the harmer was getting her life together and perhaps establishing an on-going relationship with her. The harmed felt the whole process had gone well and particularly appreciated the care taken in selecting the right tea and biscuits for the conference. She said, "Everything was wonderful, I am glad it happened and glad I have done it”
The harmer said she had got more than she had hoped out of the process. The conference had “closed the gap between her and MC” and she “feels lighter as a person”. She said, “It was the first time i felt that I deserved good things to happen to me” or at least the first time of feeling that without it being clouded by a sense of shame for my past.
The harmer described the process as “surreal, remarkable: not many addicts manage to recover and turn their lives around and not many harmed people are willing to meet their harmer”. The harmer expressed her admiration that the RJ process had been non-judgmental as described at the outset. It enabled her to talk honestly about her thoughts and what she had done. "I was completely comfortable with them both, they were so friendly, calm, easy to talk to and non-judgmental. This was so important to me as I was the one who had committed the offence. Everything was so clearly explained and I knew if I had any questions I was able to ask them. Throughout the process I was kept up to date and my welfare and feelings were always taken into consideration. Despite being the harmer I was treated with compassion, dignity and respect.”
“I have felt that I can leave that part of my life behind. I'm yet to hear from the person I harmed but if they do get in contact I hope we can keep in touch. My journey was incredibly positive and it has surprised me that, as humans, we have such an enormous capacity to forgive. I appreciate this might not be the case for everyone. I was more than satisfied with the process. To go on a journey and experience professionalism, kindness, compassion and forgiveness is one I won't forget.”
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