Newhaven crime victim receives apology from offender

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A Newhaven cyclist who smashed a car window after he felt a driver had cut him up, met his victim to apologise for his crime.

The 46-year-old cyclist was arrested in January after a police investigation into an incident in Avis Road, in which a driver was abused by a cyclist and had his car window smashed.

Sussex Police said the cyclist was later sentenced to a conditional discharge for 12 months and was ordered to pay compensation and costs to the victim, having pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage.

After sentencing, the victim, Jamie Crawford, 50, of Denton Drive, Newhaven, contacted Sussex Police and asked if he could meet the offender to seek an apology and an explanation.

Sussex Restorative Justice Partnership then set up a Restorative Justice conference, held at a local village hall.

Mr Crawford said: “I was pleased to be able to address the offender with confidence and speak my truth, without any sense of fear or anger.

“I was pleased that he was able to apologise at least to the minimum degree that I would find acceptable and that we were able to agree at the end of the conference that the matter had been resolved satisfactorily and that both of us could now put it in the past. “Very importantly for me, by the end of the conference I felt that some of the dignity I felt I’d lost by becoming a victim of crime in the way I did on the day of the offence and in the weeks following had been restored to me by the way I conducted myself in the conference.”

Superintendent Di Roskilly of Sussex Police said; “We strongly support the use of Restorative Justice as a process to help victims explain what impact the crime has on them to those responsible, and potentially to get answers to their questions which can be helpful to some victims.

“It enables offenders to understand and hear from those most affected, about the harm they have caused by their offending behaviour. This can lead to a change in their offending behaviour and reduce re-offending in our communities.”

Restorative Justice is a forum in which victims can meet offenders to talk about the crimes that have been committed against them.

It takes place after conviction and sentence, sometimes takes place in a prison where the offender is serving his or her sentence.

The RJ process is unique within the criminal justice system as it is a voluntary process and the offender receives no rewards or other incentive to take part.

It is based on the principle that those that have been involved in the crime are best placed to talk about it and look at ways in which the offender may be able to explain and atone for the harm that has been caused.

The victims can ask unanswered questions and it has also been found that offenders that go through the process are less likely to reoffend.

The Sussex Restorative Justice Project is made up of staff and volunteers from Sussex and Surrey Probation Trust, Sussex Police, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, Victim Support and Sussex Pathways.

The Project is approved and supported by the Sussex Criminal Justice Board (SCJB).