Customary Practice and Restorative Justice in Libya: A Hybrid Approach
Restorative Solutions delivers first BTP RJ Intervention.
Restorative Solutions London has just delivered its first RJ intervention as part of its partnership with the British Transport Police, a Restorative Justice Conference concerning an incident occurred at a London train station during a busy rush hour. Lisa Smitherman, Restorative Solutions London's Manager facilitated the process, which had a satisfactory conclusion for both parties involved.
On the 19th June 2015 at Kings Cross Underground station (Victoria Line) during a busy rush hour, a 56 year old man (Harmer) attempted to board the busy evening train. He asked that a male in front of him make some attempt to move further into the carriage. He was ignored. The man asked again, and was told he ‘wasn’t going to move’. A short, heated exchange ensued and escalated to the point, that the new passenger attempted to throw a punch aimed at the others head. (An action that was totally out of character for this gentleman). The potential victim dodged sideways causing the thrown fist to continue its journey, which unfortunately met the bridge of the nose of a 34 year old lady (Harmed), causing blood to flow immediately. By reason the ‘Doctrine of Transferred Malice’, he was guilty of assault.
He stepped back off the train, the doors closed and the train left the platform. He, realising the perilous position he’d just placed himself in, approached a member of LTU staff and provided his details.
The victim subsequently reported the assault at Walthamstow Police Station.
Following investigation, the officer in case requested that the matter be handled by way of a Community Resolution with a Restorative approach. The harmed was reluctant to go to court or see the harmer go through the formal Criminal Justice System. The harmer had always projected the image of a man who briefly ‘lost his head’, and couldn’t apologise enough for his behaviour.
In the afternoon of 28th July 2015 an ERG supervisor approached The CR&RJ Project Team for advice regarding the possibility of a Level 2 Community Resolution, using a facilitated Restorative approach.
On 29th, an approach was made to our partners at Restorative Solutions, to enquire if this was even possible, given that the meeting had been arranged for only 5 hours’ time! (Most RJ interventions can take weeks of preparation and mediation prior to any face to face meeting). In a fast moving few hours the meeting was arranged at CPLS. With great support from the front desk staff (who aware of the situation and the need to avoid the parties meeting) we were able to prepare the participants separately.
At 3 o’clock all concerned met with Lisa Smitherman (RS) who was the lead facilitator for the reparative meeting and PS Keith Barnes (BTP) who acted as the observer/support. Following the Restorative Justice ‘script’ the meeting began with the questioning of the harmer. The ‘harmed’ was then able to respond with her questioning of the harmer. This was a particularly uncomfortable experience for him. By way of a couple examples, made by the harmed, ‘That evening, whilst you were sitting at home enjoying your evening, I was in Walthamstow A&E until 4am waiting to be seen’. ‘My nose wasn’t actually broken, but it bled heavily. I was in a lot of pain, but because, once cleaned, there was no visible injury I couldn’t go sick as no one at work would have believed me’. ‘I couldn’t believe you just stepped off the train!’ She was very emotional as she re-lived the incident, and it was clear to the harmer that her account and the personal trauma endured had a significant impact on him. At the end of the discussion, the harmed was asked what she wanted by way of ‘closure’ for the day. She said that an honest apology would be enough. The harmer stated that his behaviour was unacceptable, and unreservedly gave his apologies. As an additional gesture he offered £350 in cash, for her inconvenience and to treat herself to something. That extra token of real remorse caused the harmed to burst to grateful tears.
The harmed has had nothing but praise for the professionalism and measured approach in dealing with her case by BTP. She was very grateful and assured by Restorative Solutions involvement and Lisa’s conferencing skills.
Whilst this provided closure for the harmed, it also enabled the harmer to ‘move on’ following this incident. He had been very distressed and concerned at the predicament he’d found himself in, following rush of blood in the heat of a moment. He had worried that, although he had no offending history, he would find himself standing in court. He was also grateful for the new sensible, measured approach by BTP, which gives Community Resolution, and Restorative Justice real value.