New Westminster – As the New Westminster Police Department moves towards a trauma informed practice, the department aims to provide their police officers with tools on how to empower victims of crime.
“We want to familiarize our officers with different options they can present to victims of crime,” stated Acting Chief Constable Dave Jansen. “Restorative justice is one of those options.”
Restorative justice brings those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. Restorative justice is a fiscally responsible choice as it costs less that the traditional court system. Most importantly, the process is a learning process as opposed to a simply punitive one.
The New Westminster Police Department works in partnership with Communities Embracing Restorative Action (CERA) a non-profit community based organization to offer restorative justice programs to youth under age 18 who have been accused of a criminal offence.
“Both the New Westminster Police Department and CERA recognize that referrals to restorative justice have been low. At this time, NWPD and CERA are working together to determine why this has been the case and what actions need to be taken to address this,” stated Gurinder Mann, Executive Director of CERA Society. “One of the possibilities as to why referrals have been low is the lack of familiarity of police officers with the option of restorative justice. NWPD and CERA are working on strategies to better familiarize police officers with restorative justice. NWPD and CERA share a very positive relationship and we are optimistic that together we will increase referrals to restorative justice in the coming time.”
To learn more about restorative justice, please visit the Department of Justice website www.justice.gc.ca or the CERA website www.cerasociety.org.