Staffordshire Victim Gateway

Q1: What happens when I contact the Victim Gateway?

A :You can contact the victim Gateway in the first instance by phone, email, or via our website.

When you contact us, a member of our team will establish your preferred method of contact whether it be by phone, text or email. Regardless of which we will listen and talk to you about your experience; how it has affected you and what help you may need to recover. We will assess your support needs and provide you with advice or information to answer any immediate questions you may have. We can also allocate you with your own Victim Care Coordinator if needed who will provide you with both face to face practical and emotional support through this difficult time including attending court with you.

We recognise there will be times, other organisations are better placed to help you and if so, we can introduce you to them with your consent, all whilst ensuring appropriate confidentiality.

Q2: What if no-one believes me?

A:  At the Staffordshire Victim Gateway and Restorative Justice Service, we take all referrals into our service, both professional and self referral seriously, and we understand that not being believed, is probably one of the most painful positions to find yourself in, and one that needs safe & supportive attention.

When a referral is made to the Victim Gateway, we are led by you, and therefore we will offer both telephone and one-to-one support (should you need more intensive and personal support). We also acknowledge that your needs will differ and therefore we take pride in offering a very flexible and person centred approach.

Q3: If my crime occurred in Staffordshire, but I live outside Staffordshire, can you still help me?

A:  The Gateway unfortunately cannot provide a support service to victims of crime who live outside of the Staffordshire area, even if the crime was committed within Staffordshire; however, we will do our best to help you to find the relevant support within your local area; this may include also with national helpline information.

Q4: I am homeless and a victim of crime. Can you support me?

A:  Yes, all victims of crime are entitled to help under the Victim’s Code. The Gateway will also support victims who for whatever reason, have made the difficult decision not to report their experience to the Police but may still need support to help them come to terms with what has happened to them, regardless of when the crime or incident occured.

Q5: If I don't report the crime to the police, can you still support me?

A:  Yes, the Staffordshire Victim Gateway will respect and support all victims, who for whatever reason, have made the difficult decision not to report their experience to the Police; we understand you may still need support to help overcome what has happened to you, and will be led by your needs through the process.

Q6: Will I have to go to court?

A: If you report a crime to the police, you will be asked to give a statement about what happened; this may be used as evidence in court. It may be some time before you know whether you’ll need to go to court (cases can take a long time to prepare). We know that the prospect of appearing in court, and the process that precedes it should you be required to, can be a confusing and daunting experience. We can help you prepare for this, and make sure that all the support and any special measures you need are in place to help you do this, as well as attend court with you, should you need our support.

Restorative Justice

Q1: Is Restorative Justice Service still running during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A:  Yes. We might not be able to facilitate face to face meetings right now, we are still accepting referrals. We are working towards a way to resume face to face in the near future of parties are happy to take part. We will follow government guidelines on social distancing, face masks and use of hand sanitisers.  Restorative Justice does not happen overnight, and a trained facilitator will speak to both parties multiple times to help them work out what they want to say, and if a meeting is desirable. This preparation process is still going ahead over the phone during the COVID-19 crisis.

Q2: Why would I want to have contact with the person who committed the crime?

A: Most victims of crime who go through Restorative Justice find the process beneficial and it helps them to move forward with their lives. Many people want to ask questions about the crime and find out why it happened to them. One of the most common questions victims have is “why me”. Many want to tell the person responsible what the consequences of their actions were as they don’t feel they have had their say through the Criminal Justice process. Many want to ensure that they don’t offend again. There are a multitude of benefits that can arise for people affected by crime who go through Restorative Justice.

Q3: Do I have to forgive the person responsible?

A: No. Forgiveness is a personal choice, and no one will be asked to forgive the person who harmed them. Restorative Justice can still be valuable to both parties without forgiveness.

Q4: Can Restorative Justice be used for any type of crime?

A: Yes. The only criteria are that both parties need to consent to the process, and a trained facilitator decides that it is safe to proceed.

Q5: Is it safe for me to meet the person who committed the crime?

A: The trained facilitator, who will be allocated to your case, will fully risk assess the situation and have in-depth conversations with the person responsible to ensure that it is safe, and that confidentiality is taken very seriously. Facilitators will not allow the process to go ahead if they do not consider it safe to do so.

Q6: Will Restorative Justice allow the person responsible to get off lightly?

A: No. Restorative Justice can be used alongside prison sentences or any other kind of punishment. The Staffordshire Victims Gateway and Restorative Justice Service have facilitated successful cases of Restorative Justice while people have been in prison, and their sentences have not been reduced as a result of Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice can also be used as part of an Out of Court Disposal, depending on the severity of the crime in question. As always, Restorative Justice will only go ahead with both parties’ consent.

Q7: When does Restorative Justice happen?

A: The Staffordshire Victims Gateway and Restorative Justice Service is contracted to deliver Restorative Justice only where a crime has been committed. This doesn’t have to be reported to the police however we can support yourselves to do this if needed. Restorative Justice can happen at any time during the criminal justice process, including alongside a prison sentence. It can be difficult however to complete a Restorative Justice Meeting when an investigation is being completed especially if the crime is serious or complex. Restorative Justice is not traditionally appropriate when someone does not accept responsibility for the crime though. So if a case is going to court, any Restorative Justice Meeting would normally take place post-sentencing.

Q8: Can I communicate with the person who committed the crime without meeting them?

A: Yes. Although face to face meetings are the most effective form of Restorative Justice, we are able to work with yourself to write letters, and think about questions that we could ask on your behalf. You are not going to be rushed to meet with the person responsible, so sometimes victims don’t want to do this initially, however once they are ready, have then still met with the person responsible. We will work with you throughout this process, and with whatever form of communication suits you

Q9: What if I meet the person who committed the crime and am too frightened to go ahead?

A: Restorative Justice is an entirely voluntary process, and both parties can pull out at any time. You can also take a break during a face to face meeting to regain your composure and then still go ahead with the meeting. It is common for people to be nervous about meeting the person who committed the crime against them, but people often tell us that meeting the person again was not as frightening as they expected, and that it allowed them to regain power over the situation.

Q10: What if the person responsible doesn’t accept responsibility?

A: Restorative Justice only goes ahead with both parties’ consent. In normal circumstances, it can only go ahead if the person who committed the offence accepts responsibility for their actions. However, if you have been the victim of crime from someone who doesn’t accept full responsibility, it is still worth getting in touch with ourselves if you are interested. Restorative Justice has taken place in some cases despite the perpetrator not accepting full responsibility for what they have done. Whether or not this is appropriate depends on what the victim of crime seeks to get out of the Restorative Justice meeting, and whether their expectations are realistic.