Dave Pascoe’s conversion to Restorative Justice
Dave always wanted to work in the police, but he didn’t see the point of Restorative Justice.
“I didn’t agree with it,” he tells me, about the course from Restorative Solutions which he went on in 2007, “I thought it was nonsense and a soft option. So I ignored it.”
Dave was a police officer in Lancashire for 27 years, starting in 1992 after getting experience in the RAF Regiment. He had a long career in the Armed Response team, which culminated in him getting a commendation for stopping a riot in East Timor while seconded to the United Nations.
“After a lady died the locals surrounded the hospital,” he explains. “They wanted to bury her, but the rules were that a post-mortem had to be done first to find out the cause of death. It got very nasty and we were surrounded by 250 people with machetes. One man ran at me and luckily I was able to tackle him and take his weapon. After making sure he was calm, I gave him his machete back, and diffused the situation by explaining why we were doing what we were doing. We did the post-mortem and it found a virus in the water, which saved more people’s lives.”
This ability to diffuse conflict with dialogue seems to make Dave a natural Restorative Justice advocate, but he only came around to the idea while working in Neighbourhood policing in Burnley. A feud between two groups had generated 270 police reports over many years, and police were having no luck resolving it. Dave was told to try resolving the situation with Restorative Justice and gave it a go with a heavy heart, not expecting it to work. But it did work. They sat around a huge table in the park and within 15 minutes the women were crying and hugging and the men were apologising and shaking hands.
Dave was hooked. He went on to use Restorative Justice for all sorts of cases including shoplifting, burglaries, assault and drink driving. He was also one of the first officers to take a victim into prison for Restorative Justice. Dave realised that, when he first heard about Restorative Justice, he was thinking entirely from the offender’s perspective – not about how important Restorative Justice is for victims.
“Helping the offender is a bonus but this is a victim focused process. Lots of officers focus on the offender, doing their best to secure evidence to support a conviction. Core police officers deal with offenders on a daily basis and want to put bad guys in prison. They are consumed with the job in hand and confined by reduced numbers and time restraints.
“It’s not that officers don’t want to do the right thing for victims but their caseloads are large and they are trying to get cases finished as fast as possible. We need to take pressure off of front line officers as organisations which can do Restorative Justice for them.”
Dave recently retired from the police, but his restful life didn’t last long. He now works for Restorative Solutions as the Lead Practitioner for North Yorkshire.
“It’s fantastic to be working for the organisation which first introduced me to Restorative Justice. We are providing Restorative Justice for the whole of North Yorkshire and are keen to hear from victims whose cases we can take on.”
As well as working for Restorative Solutions, Dave is working at TriRestorative, a small company which he set up to work on Restorative Justice in schools. The amazing thing about his Restorative Schools Programme is that the Restorative Justice interventions are led by children.
“We focus on years 8, 9 and 10 and train them up to deliver restorative interventions. The school decides which pupils are most suitable, and these are not always the most academic students. Once we have trained the students to deliver Restorative Justice, problems between students can be solved by students, with no one being afraid of “grassing” to teachers if that made them speak less openly. This approach has worked for all sorts of problems in schools: fights, damage, stolen property and anything like that.
I even did a pilot with year 5s. The children took to it so easily. Restorative practice is completely natural to them. Young people understand far more than we give them credit for.”
During his career, Dave has gone from having no interest in Restorative Justice, to being a pioneer in the field. Why me? are committed to fighting alongside him to give victims the access to Restorative Justice which they deserve.