Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds These are Tom, Anne and Peter. Tom is a trained mediator. He has been meeting with Anne and Peter to prepare them for a face-to-face mediation with the person who burgled their house about a year ago. This is the moment just before the mediated face-to-face meeting with John. Before this meeting, Tom, the facilitator, has met with both parties separately, probably on several occasions to learn what their concerns are, what they would like to discuss with the other party, and how they feel about an eventual face-to-face meeting. Such preparation often takes several weeks.
Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds Good morning Anne and Peter. Well thank you very much for attending the mediation, being here present in person. Just first, before we start, I want to make sure if you’re both still OK with the participation in the mediation process. Yes. OK. So what we’ll do now is that I’m going to invite John to participate in the mediation. He will be sitting over here.
Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds I will give you, as we agreed upon, the starting up of the mediation and you will be the first one to start.
Skip to 1 minute and 34 seconds If there is a moment during the mediation process that you feel uncomfortable, or you want to pause the mediation, just give me a signal or wave, and then we will take a break and stop. OK? So now I will invite John to be present and then we will continue. OK?
Skip to 2 minutes and 10 seconds Given that participation in victim-offender mediation is voluntary, the facilitator might regularly check with the involved parties whether they are still interested in continuing. Every participant is free to withdraw at any time without consequences, even as a face-to-face meeting is about to start. That is why Tom double-checks with Anne and Peter how they are feeling about the face-to-face meeting that is about to take place. Some mediation starts with the offender explaining what happened. Some, as with this one, starts with the victim saying how they feel. Come in, John.
Skip to 2 minutes and 56 seconds You can sit over here, John.
Skip to 3 minutes and 4 seconds Well, Anne, Peter, meet John. John, Anne and Peter. Before we start with the mediation, I just need to say some things. First of all, while the mediation and everything that is said during the mediation process is confidential, you will have all the opportunities and possibilities to say what you want to say to each other. The only thing is that we will not interrupt each other during the mediation.
Skip to 3 minutes and 40 seconds And lastly, well, we agreed upon that Anne would start with giving her side of all the things that happened. OK? Anne? I guess I’d like to say I was terrified… Mmm hmm. … when I realised that someone had been in the house. The idea of someone coming in and going through our home, touching our things, going through the drawers…
Skip to 4 minutes and 13 seconds Do you realise how scary it is to know that someone’s been in your house while you’ve been asleep? You could have stood over my bed, and I wouldn’t have noticed. Did you come into our bedroom? No. Did you even care we were home?
Skip to 4 minutes and 30 seconds I don’t think you have any idea how scary it is! What would you have done if one of us had woken up to see what the noise was? What would you have done if one of us had come down to confront you? Were you armed? Would you have hurt us? No. No. Nothing like that. But you came into our house, my home. Why?
Skip to 5 minutes and 3 seconds Ever since, I have jumped every time someone has come to the door. I have been suspicious of everything, and that is something I hate about myself. I can’t sleep. I can’t get over the idea that I didn’t wake up when you were in the house.
Skip to 5 minutes and 27 seconds I wake up in the night and I worry that I’ve not locked the doors or closed the windows, but I’m too scared to go and check. So I just lie there, mulling it over. And I can’t get back to sleep. I can’t get back to sleep.
Skip to 5 minutes and 49 seconds Is there something you want to add or say something? No, no. Not at this point. Victim-offender mediation allows a victim to ask questions, express emotions and explain what the consequences of the incident were. They do not get the chance to ask questions of the offender during the police investigation or in court, nor often to talk about the effects on them. Victim-offender mediation offers them a safe setting to voice their concerns and express themselves in the presence of a trained facilitator and a supporter.
Skip to 6 minutes and 27 seconds Well John, you’ve just heard the story, and the reflections and especially the feelings of Anne. What would you like to say to her? What would be your response now? I just want to say that I never wanted to hurt anyone.
Skip to 6 minutes and 49 seconds And I know this is really difficult to believe, but I’m really, really sorry for what’s happened. I mean, I know there’s no excuse. No, but try anyway.
Skip to 7 minutes and 4 seconds Peter and I would like to know why you did what you did.
Skip to 7 minutes and 13 seconds You have to know that, I mean, I left school with not a lot. I mean, I were never really any good at reading and writing or anything, and I only ever did odd jobs. And well then I had a kid. And I love my son. He means the world to me. I’d do anything for him. After my wife left, things were getting difficult, and I was struggling to make ends meet, you know, paying bills. And I started hanging around with wrong people, and it were a mistake. It were a really, really stupid mistake. I know that now. Look, I understand that it may be hard for you to make ends meet.
Skip to 8 minutes and 4 seconds And I know that not everyone is as fortunate as us, but you stole the equipment that I need to provide for my family.
Skip to 8 minutes and 17 seconds I know. I realise that now. And I am sorry. Was there any particular reason why you chose our house? Oh, no. No. Look… Did you know we had all that camera equipment? Oh God, no, I mean, I were around back up, saw the fence. It were an easy quick in-and-out. I just wasn’t thinking. I wasn’t thinking. In a face-to-face meeting with their victim or victims, the offender gets a chance to explain what happened and why. That is not a way to justify the crime, but allows victims a chance to get some insight into what happened and what led up to it, which is what victims are often looking for but do not find in criminal justice proceedings.
Skip to 9 minutes and 9 seconds As John does, offenders also have a chance to express remorse and apologise. Is there something you want to say, Anne, to John? Well John, I speak for Peter and myself when I say that we know we’re not going to get back what you took from us, but well, we don’t want you to do it again. We don’t want anyone else to experience what it’s like to have their house broken into. It’s a horrible sensation.
Skip to 9 minutes and 54 seconds What we would like to get out of this is knowing that you will do something more useful with your life, if that makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. Look, I can tell you feel bad. And I hope that you feel guilty. But if there’s anything that you take from this, I hope that you find meaning to do something with your life. I really do.
Skip to 10 minutes and 32 seconds Wow, I thought coming in here I were going to get my head kicked in. Listen, I know it don’t make up for everything, but I want you to know that I realise what I did was really, really wrong. And I am very sorry. I mean, I want to make up for it. I mean, if you want me to pay money towards the cost or help you rebuild the fence, I’ll do that. I just really deeply regret what’s happened. I promise I’m never going to do anything like this again, and I just want you to know that I’m really, really sorry. I’m really sorry.
Skip to 11 minutes and 20 seconds It is interesting to note that Anne, Peter and John have found a common goal, that is for John to desist from committing further offences. Over the course of the meeting, the dynamic has shifted. When John entered the meeting room, and during the first part of the meeting, he tried to avoid looking at Anne and Peter. But as the meeting progresses, John is able to look at Anne and Peter. Also, Anne stopped staring at her hands and found herself able to look John in the eye. Peter is also visibly less tense and angry than at the start of the meeting.
Skip to 11 minutes and 53 seconds Some restorative justice meetings end with agreements, often written agreements, called outcome agreements, made between the participants as to what people will do afterwards. Some like this mediation do not. In the following weeks, Tom will get in touch with John, as well as with Anne and Peter separately again, to hear how they are doing, how they feel about the face-to-face meeting, and whether they have any other questions or concerns.
A mock victim-offender mediation
To give you a better understanding of what takes place during a mediation meeting, we have filmed a mock meeting using actors and a trained facilitator.
In this video, you’ll meet victims Anne and Peter whose house was burgled a year ago. Anne and Peter were sleeping upstairs during the burglary. The burglar stayed downstairs and Anne and Peter did not wake up before he left. They only realized that they had been burgled when they came down to the kitchen the next morning.
The offender, John, broke a window in the kitchen to gain entry to the house. Peter is a professional photographer and has a studio on the first floor of his home. John stole some of Peter’s professional camera equipment as well as a little cash that was left on the kitchen table.
John was arrested soon after the burglary and confessed to multiple burglaries. He is currently serving time in prison, which is where this mediation is taking place.
Please be aware that this is a mock mediation meeting. All characters are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
- Bart Claes as ‘Tom’
- Rachael Elder as ‘Anne’
- Lee Martyn as ‘Peter’
- Tom Rose as ‘John’
© The University of Sheffield