Restorative Justice in sexual assault cases: UK
"Chloe Stothart reports on a scheme that brings victims of sexual violence face to face with their assailant.
Project name: AIM's Restorative Justice Project www.aimproject.org.uk
Aims and objectives: To provide restorative justice services in suitable cases where adolescents display sexually harmful behaviour. To learn from a small set of cases and provide advice to practitioners.
Numbers of service users: About 10 cases since it began in 2006.
Cost/funding: £60,000 from Lloyds TSB Foundation over three years (from January 2010 to December 2012)
Restorative justice is seldom used with sex offenders, especially young ones. "It is an area where practitioners have feared to tread in the past," says Vince Mercer, restorative justice co-ordinator at the AIM project, a Salford-based scheme advising professionals working with young people who behave in sexually harmful ways.
But Mercer was prepared to step into such uncharted territory. While working on a restorative justice project for Greater Manchester Youth Justice Trust, he shared an office with AIM's manager Julie Hennicker and discussion of each other's work prompted them to work together.
Because most of the cases AIM deals with concern abuse within the family, restorative justice can be an innovative way to tackle the mediation and planning needed to ensure the safety of the victim and others when the offender returns to the family."