ReACT partner and Author of “Restorative Justice. A Positive Way Forward” Claire Denby-Knight exclusively shares her recent success story in resolving Anti-social Behaviour with the Restorative Justice Approach…
I am thrilled to announce that my skills in Restorative Justice have allowed me to extend my services even further, and become a “Case Buster”!
I was recently contacted by a City Council who wanted to talk to me about help solving a very long standing issue of Anti-social Behaviour that they could find no remedy for. This issue had raged for years, caused illness, disharmony and complaints to the level of Chief Executive at the Council. Case workers were tearing their hair out, managers were loathe to make contact for fear of stirring things up again, and senior managers were burdened with a lengthening list of unsolvable complaints.
My first challenge was to make contact with the parties, and arrange to meet with each of them separately – something I was advised was “…never gonna happen…”. I phoned each ‘side’ and quickly secured diary dates. My first visit was to the alleged ‘perp’ who I was told would be hostile, to the point of scary. Immediately I found this not to be the case, and was met by an intelligent and caring person, who was driven by the need for people to be treated well and have their rights respected. My second visit to the other ‘side’ was just as revelatory, as we discussed some personal and private family issues which were causing added stress and angst.
It quickly became apparent to me that there were commonalities between the parties in this case, and I sensed that this would be how I could make progress. In previous cases I have dealt with involving long standing disputes, I have spent time with each side, listening and rationalising, until I get to a point where I ask each one “…so why did you fall out ten years ago?…”, and the almost universal reply is “…I can’t remember…”! Although this wasn’t quite the case here, there was equal good and bad on both sides, some of which may have been misinterpreted as having been malicious, when it had clearly never been so intentioned.
After some time (hours) had been spent with each party, I decided it was time for a final meeting with them, knowing that they were not ready yet to come together in conference. Traditionally I go to these meetings with a handwritten sheet of outcomes that I would ideally like each ‘side’ to agree to and sign, in the hope that this creates acceptable boundaries. When I showed it to the first person, he disagreed with the outcomes and asked if he could just send a message to the other family. I said I would write down what he wrote and pass it on verbatim. His message began with the words “Thank you…”, and blew me away. The reaction from the other side was also dramatic with them asking that thanks were passed back. Offers of help were also included.
When I fed back these outcomes to the Council, they were amazed, and then doubly impressed when the one party immediately withdrew all their complaints against them as the issues were “…solved…”. I believe that incidents such as this – and similar scenarios – are holding organisations to ransom up and down the country. This is further proof of the benefits of using restorative approaches and interventions to solve these troublesome matters.
To contact Claire to see how you you can work together to tackle your ASB issues call her on 07855 449 720 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org