The opportunity for Restorative Justice following Sarah Everard’s vigil
Why me? write to Cressida Dick proposing Restorative Justice following the conflict at Sarah Everard’s vigil
By Why me? Director Lucy Jaffe
I have written to Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, proposing the use of restorative approaches to address the harm caused in the aftermath of the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard. This murder shocked and appalled me, and the impact on her family and friends is devastating. The ripples of harm have extended to victims of crime and the general public, and are exacerbated by the fact that the accused is a serving Police Officer.
The subsequent protests by women have been a spontaneous response to express their sadness, anger and fear. Women are fed up at having to adjust their lives to avoid, fight against, and in many cases, accommodate, male violence. It was unfortunate therefore that an agreement could not be reached between the Metropolitan Police and the organisers of the protests prior to the vigil on Clapham Common, which could have allowed people to share their grief and anger about this crime, while also respecting COVID-19 regulations. In the end, time pressures, COVID-19 laws and a lack of clarity from the Government, led to a conflict which no-one wanted to see, culminating in women being arrested on Clapham Common, and police force being used.
I believe that restorative approaches have a role to play in rebuilding relationships between the police,women’s organisations and individual women involved in the protests. Restorative approaches are a neutral yet powerful process which enable parties to engage in a dialogue about the harm that was caused, how they were affected, and how they can move forward. Restorative approaches between police and young people have been used successfully in the UK and in Europe to address community conflict, increase understanding and improve policing outcomes. This is a great opportunity to deploy a restorative approach to address community and police relations and fits with the principles of policing by consent.
Creative approaches are required in demanding times, and Restorative Justice gives the parties involved in conflict the opportunity to come up with their own solutions. Let’s hope the Commissioner sees sense in my proposal.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Commissioner Cressida Dick
I am writing from Why me?, a national charity promoting the use of Restorative Justice to transform lives. I believe that restorative approaches can be used to enable dialogue between the police, women’s organisations and individual women involved in the protests in response to the murder of Sarah Everard.
I am extremely sorry about the harm and distress which has been caused by the murder, not least for Sarah and her family, but also the subsequent events which have impacted upon relations between women at the event and the Metropolitan Police. This is not an easy situation for you and demands creative leadership.
That is why I am writing to propose the use of Restorative Justice, a neutral yet powerful process which enables parties to engage in dialogue to address the harm that was caused and to move forward. Restorative approaches between police and young people have been used successfully in the UK and in Europe to address community conflict, increase understanding and improve policing outcomes. This is a great opportunity to deploy a restorative approach to understand the concerns which some people had about the policing of the vigil, while also allowing the police to express their point of view, state what happened and be heard. We believe that a process like this fits well with the principles of policing by consent.
I can offer our team of facilitators, some of whom are retired police officers, who have experience in both 1:1 Restorative Justice and restorative approaches to work in situations of conflict and harm. There are also many other restorative providers across the country who could facilitate this effectively.
I would be happy to meet you and your colleagues to take this idea forward.