We have earned a prestigious honour for our work in diverting young people away from crime
Our Youth Offending Team was praised at national level after demonstrating high-quality restorative justice and making a real difference in the lives of offenders and victims.
What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice is an approach which brings people into communication after they have been affected by crime. The victim and the offender are able to share their experience of what happened, to discuss who was harmed by the crime and to agree on how the offender can repair it.
The aim is for victims to be empowered by giving them a voice in the criminal justice system, reducing their feelings of powerlessness and anxiety. For offenders, it discourages them from causing further harm and encourages them to take responsibility for their actions by learning about the consequences of their behaviour.
What have we been awarded?
We have been awarded the Restorative Service Quality Mark (RSQM) by the Restorative Justice Council to recognise the high standard of work it carries out with victims, young people and the community in addressing youth crime.
Cllr Viv Kendrick, Cabinet member for Children, said:
“It is well established that restorative justice has benefits for victims and young people alike. It can reduce the risk of re-offending, help victims to overcome the stress of the crime and often gives both parties a greater sense that justice has been served.
“Along with our partners, the Kirklees Youth Offending Team do an excellent job in helping us to create safe and cohesive communities and support young people to achieve better outcomes. The RSQM is a well-deserved badge of quality.”
Jim Simon, chief executive of the Restorative Justice Council, said:
“High quality restorative interventions play a key role in diverting young people away from the criminal justice system. Congratulations to Kirklees Youth Offending Team on achieving the RSQM, which demonstrates its commitment to providing safe and effective restorative practice throughout its service.”
Stephen was a vulnerable young man who described himself as having learning difficulties and anxiety. He was assaulted by a group of three young people, leaving him fearful and unable to leave his home.
Stephen told the Kirklees Youth Offending Team how the offence had made him feel and that he no longer had the independence he had previously enjoyed. He was afraid and isolated.
Over time, Stephen realised he wanted to ask more questions and get involved in a restorative process. He wanted reassurance that there wouldn’t be any retribution if he were to see the young people who had been responsible for the assault.
One of the young people volunteered to meet with Stephen and, along with the case manager, a comprehensive assessment was made of both parties. The assessment said it would be safe to bring them together in a restorative meeting.
The meeting was a positive experience for all those involved. Stephen was able to tell the young person how the assault had affected him, how he feared going out alone and how he was unable to do the things he had previously enjoyed.
The young person apologised for his part in the incident and told Stephen that he regretted it. He allayed concerns about retribution and an agreement was reached about how they should act if they encountered each other in the community.
“I wanted to do this because I felt scared and had lost all my confidence. I felt nervous beforehand but I was able to tell him how I felt and he told me how he felt. The meeting was really good and I feel that I have had some closure. It didn’t take long, but those 10 minutes changed my life.
My support worker said he thought I was more confident. I have started going out a bit on my own. I am currently getting ready to move into my own home and I’m looking forward to the arrival of a niece or nephew at the end of the year. I feel really proud that I did this, it really helped me.”