A victim of rape who met her attacker through Lancashire Police's Restorative Justice programme has spoken of how the initiative has helped her move on with her life.
Speaking anonymously to a conference of police and criminal justice professionals hosted by Lancashire Police and the county's Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, during International Restorative Justice Week 2017, the victim said that meeting her attacker had been crucial to her recovery.
"I realised after the trial, where he had pleaded guilty, that I wanted to try and find out whether there was a way I could meet him, I wasn't aware of Restorative Justice at the time but had questions that I knew only he could answer," the anonymous woman said.
"Meeting him was crucial in my recovery, hearing him say sorry to me face to face - every time I got an answer to the questions I felt relief, and a lot of fear and anxiety that I had carried with me, that I did not fully realise I had, lifted," she added.
"I would encourage others to look for help through Restorative Justice, it has a really powerful effect on your life even knowing that there is an option to utilise it as part of the healing process and I hope that more will be able to access it and increasing awareness about it is such an important thing."
Commissioner Grunshaw praised the victim's courage in speaking out as he opened the conference which highlighted the services available and how it can help people in complex cases, and said: “Restorative Justice can be a really important process giving victims a chance to get answers following a crime and often giving them a way to move on with their lives.
"The team at Lancashire police and Lancashire Victim Services can offer the advice and support people need to take this difficult but often important step," he added. "The process can also give offenders the chance to face up to what they have done, understand how their crimes have affected people and reform as a result."
Restorative Justice is being used for a wide range of incidents and crimes from low level anti-social behaviour to more serious and complex cases, with Commissioner Grunshaw adding: “I am confident this is a positive step towards making our communities better, safer places to live, and to giving victims of crime and anti-social behavior a real voice."
For further information on Restorative Justice, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01772 412 545.