Firearms Offence: A Restorative Justice Case Study
The offender in this case had been suffering with issues affecting his mental health which he tried to manage with alcohol and street drugs. He was due to be sectioned by mental health workers, who requested police assistance at the address. The offender threatened officers with a firearm, live streaming the incident on social media. A firearms operation lasted almost ten hours before being brought to a safe conclusion for all involved.
The offender was sectioned and convicted at court. Once he had obtained help for his mental health and reflected on his actions, he was extremely remorseful, requesting that he be able to participate in the Restorative Justice process. Some officers were unable or unwilling to participate in the process, but one of the initial responding officers agreed. She felt that it could be beneficial to challenge the offender’s behaviour and get him to understand its impact. She was also willing to ask questions on behalf of her colleagues.
The offender wanted the chance to explain that his mental state at the time, accentuated by the drugs he had taken, meant that he was extremely paranoid. This led to him streaming the event on social media to show how he was being treated. He felt terrible that he had caused so much harm to so many people and wished to apologise for his actions to those affected.
All parties met for a face-to-face meeting. The offender explained his perspective but made it clear he was in no way condoning his actions. He provided reassurance that he had no animosity or grudges towards the police or any individual for what happened to him or how he was treated. He had now found medication that was working and did not wish to return to his previous lifestyle and health issues.
The officer was surprised at how emotional she felt, stating she was shocked at how genuinely remorseful the offender was. The officer felt that the visit had helped the offender come to terms with his behaviour and given him the opportunity to apologise and explain what he had been going through at the time of the incident. She wanted him to get better and make something of his life again.
The officer found the following debrief with Lead Practitioner Dave Pascoe helpful, as it gave her a chance to reflect on the emotional meeting. She hadn’t expected Restorative Justice to have such a profound effect on her. She wished that her colleagues had also been able to go through the experience.