A victim received messages via Snapchat that were transphobic in nature and caused distress. He was called "abnormal" and a "poof" by the offender. This case was received from the Out of Court Police team as the offender had been given a conditional caution with a mandatory condition to engage with the Restorative Justice service.
Initial meetings with the victim explored the restorative process and he indicated he would like to meet with the offender in a face-to-face meeting. The victim and offender had known each other for some time and he had previously considered him a friend. He wanted the opportunity to challenge the offender on what he said and then move on from the incident with no future contact. The victim acknowledged that he was experiencing some difficulties with his mental health and the transition process in terms of his acceptance by others, including his family. As a result we signposted him to various support services.
Initial conversations with the offender revealed that he also suffered with severe mental health difficulties, stemming from his childhood, his Aspergers and the recent death of his main support person. Consequently, we signposted him to support agencies and with his agreement made a Safeguarding referral / Social Care referral. We also shared a safety plan to complete due to his suicidal thoughts. He said he would like to participate in the meeting to have the opportunity to get his point of view across.
Preparation work was carried out with both parties. The offender openly entered into discussions around personal identity, which helped him to reflect on the harm his words had on the victim. His willingness to participate developed into wanting to repair this harm; he advised he ‘would like to try and do it as it could make me a better person’.
Victim and offender came together to engage in the conference. The offender apologised for his comments and that he had learnt that there can be severe consequences to his words. He said he would never use a person’s gender identity as a weapon against them in the future. All parties agreed that in future the victim will correct the offender if he uses the wrong pronouns and they will remove themselves from situations should things begin to get heated. Following the conference, they stayed for over 45 minutes talking and catching up, continuing to do so once the meeting had ended.
The offender described the conference as being "better than expected". He said that he has learnt a lot from the process and conference, and realised that his actions have a bigger impact than he originally thought. He said that he has learnt how his actions have affected others.
The victim described the preparation process as “nerve wracking” and “lengthy due to the mental health of the offender, but positive as I was in a better place and had reflected”. He stated that he was “very grateful we took the time to sort it out” and would “100% recommend this to others”.