On Thursday, Anne, Princess Royal, as patron of Restorative Justice Council, visited Lewes. She visited Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Katy Bourne. She was there to learn more about their restorative justice work.
Anne went to Ms Bourne’s office in Sackville House. There she met members of the Sussex Restorative Justice Partnership along with those who have utilised their services in a forum where she heard of personal experiences of how the Restorative Justice Council has helped them.
Ms Bourne discussed how the Restorative Justice programme was received: “When Police and Crime Commissioners were given the responsibility to deliver victim services, some areas of the country were slow to buy into the idea of restorative justice.
“In Sussex, I made it a priority to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system and had no doubt that restorative justice should form an important part of this provision.”
The audience included victims of crimes, offenders and other local leaders such as East Sussex High Sheriff, Michael Foster; Cllr Nigel Enever, chair of Lewes District Council; Mayor of Lewes, Graham Mayhew; and Chief Constable, Giles York. One experience the Princess Royal heard about was from campaigner Rosalyn Boyce who recounted her traumatic experience of a sexual assault seventeen years ago and her decision to meet with her attacker.
“I realised that if I was ever going to fully recover, I was going to have to forgive the person that had done this to me.
“Since that three-hour conference, people close to me have noticed a huge change. I’m at peace; I’m not afraid. All the burden that I had been carrying around with me, I handed it back, so I now feel a lot lighter, and I genuinely don’t even think about him. Restorative justice is about empowering victims and giving them back what they have lost, but it’s vital to listen to what they need.”
“Restorative justice is about people coming together, their voices being heard and feelings registered,” Stephen Wells, a volunteer facilitator for the Sussex Restorative Justice Partnership told the Sussex Express.