A new project which brings together people who have committed a crime with their victims is being launched by Torbay Council.

Make Amends is a partnership project that uses a process called Restorative Justice to bring people affected by crime, conflict, anti-social behaviour and the harmful actions of others together with those who are responsible for causing harm.

The project is launching on 1 April 2015 with a community engagement event in Union Street, Torquay between 10am and 3pm. Staff and volunteers from Make Amends will be on hand to raise awareness of what restorative justice is, provide more information about the project and have information on how to make a referral.

Frances Hughes, Executive Head for Community Safety said: “We are really pleased to be launching Make Amends. Restorative Justice can be a powerful experience, not only as a method for an offender to appreciate the damage and ongoing harm they have caused to others, but also as a way of empowering victims by giving them an opportunity to explain the impact that the event has had on them and those around them. What’s more, restorative meetings result in high levels of satisfaction for victims and decrease the likelihood of offenders reoffending.”

Restorative Justice works alongside the existing justice systems by giving those harmed an opportunity to have a voice in a way which doesn’t always happen in formal proceedings. For a restorative meeting to take place both parties need to freely consent to the meeting. Once they have agreed, trained independent and sensitive restorative practitioners from Make Amends will work with both parties to prepare them for the meeting.

Detective Sergeant Anya Teakle from the TurnAround Team, Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “Restorative Justice gives victims the opportunity to share their pain and explain the impact the crime has had on them and their lives in a safe environment. It can also help reassure victims and bring answers to many questions they may have, as well as bring closure for some victims. Often the unknown is scarier than the reality and meeting the offender who caused the harm can help victims understand why the crime happened and assist in rebuilding their confidence.”

From the 1 April 2015, Make Amends can accept referrals from agencies, voluntary and community groups as well as self referrals. If you think that you would benefit from Restorative Justice you can contact a trained practitioner by calling the referral line on 07826 903449 to talk about your options. You can alternatively email: makeamends@torbay.gcsx.gov.uk.

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