Victims of crime in Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford will now be able to access a range of restorative justice (RJ) services due to the recent opening of a specialist RJ hub in Bexhill.
The Bexhill office is one of three multi-agency hubs to open across the county, staffed with RJ specialists from Sussex Police and Victim Support. The other two hubs are in Brighton and Bognor Regis.
For some victims of crime the existing criminal justice process is sufficient whilst for others it leaves them feeling frustrated with many unanswered questions. The new RJ hubs aim to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system by supporting them on their journey to recovery.
This will often involve facilitating a safe and appropriate form of communication between victims of crime and offenders to allow victims get the closure they need in order to move on with their lives.
John Willett, strategic restorative justice manager at the office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, said, “It has been a huge challenge, not just setting up one multi-agency hub, but three, in three different locations, with several agencies involved. The hubs will give victims of crime greater access to RJ at all stages of the criminal justice system.
“They will create a focal point for any queries relating to RJ that may arise from victims, offenders, the wider community as well as RJ facilitators.
“The hubs also provide a physical space to allow practitioners to come together to focus resources and discuss what is best for the victim with minimum bureaucracy.
“Before the formation of the hubs, post-sentence RJ interventions were managed largely by e-mail between facilitators and agencies, which I believe stifled progress.
“The hubs now provide a quicker way of exchanging information with dedicated RJ practitioners working together both remotely and through co-location with the victim always at the heart of every decision.”
Nicola Fenner, the new RJ delivery officer for the East Sussex hub, said, “Before applying for this post I was working with a charity that supported people with housing needs.
“Previous to this I worked for a local authority dealing with complaints that included anti-social behaviour, noise pollution and drainage issues.
“It was a very demanding role and is when I first came across RJ; I started working with the police with some of my cases where I helped to facilitate the exchange of apology letters between parties, which worked really well.
“I saw first hand that the process is a great way repairing harm that has been caused and helping victims to move forward with their lives.”
RJ is completely voluntary and only takes place if both the victim and offender consent and have been assessed as suitable by a trained RJ facilitator.
For more information email CR_EAST@sussex.pnn.police.uk.