Lucy's story

Lucy* lives in Northamptonshire with her three sons, one of whom needs full time care because of a disability. One night, someone broke into her house while she was asleep and stole her keys. When her oldest son returned home from a night out, her car was gone. She explains how restorative justice helped her to put her mind at rest about what happened. 

“The street that we live on is all terraced houses without front gardens, so you get a lot of people walking down the street trying their luck at opening the doors.

“The police managed to find the [stolen] car quickly and it was in one piece, but they needed it for fingerprinting. They then told me I’d have to pay £185 to pick it up.”

The lad must have come in and taken my keys from the lock inside the door and stolen my car. “It was horrendous to have it stolen – I don’t have much as it is. I need the car to get to work, and to take my son to appointments. It’s a lifeline for me.

“The police managed to find the car quickly and it was in one piece, but they needed it for fingerprinting. They then told me I’d have to pay £185 to pick it up. I told them that I don’t have that sort of money, as I only work part time so that I can care for my son, and that they’d have to keep the car.

“I also had to have my locks changed as an emergency because the police hadn’t found my keys and I was frightened to death that the lad was going to come back again.”

“It was horrible to be put through so much stress and I argued for a long time before the police said that they would foot the bill.

“I also had to have my locks changed as an emergency because the police hadn’t found my keys and I was frightened to death that the lad was going to come back again. That’s the scariest thing. I didn’t dare to sleep properly as I was listening for the door in case he returned.

“Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service rang me and asked if I was interested in restorative justice and Darren Carson, a restorative justice facilitator, came to my house.”

“I was going through a hard time and that lad really pushed me over the edge. It was the final straw for me and I had to go to the doctor’s. I’d had a lot of problems to deal with - everything was getting on top of me and this was one thing too many. I was absolutely in bits.

 “Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service rang me and asked if I was interested in restorative justice and Darren Carson, a restorative justice facilitator, came to my house. He was very easy to talk to and explained everything about the process, and I felt comfortable about what was going to happen.

“I felt nervous about doing the recording to start with, but soon the story came rushing out.

 “I was prepared to meet Nick* – the teenager who had taken my car – but Darren explained that he had risk issues and that it would be better for me to do an audio recording, which would then be played to Nick. He would then be able to record his response.

“I felt nervous about doing the recording to start with, but soon the story came rushing out. I told Nick what had happened that night and that he had to understand the stress, cost and loss that he had caused.

“I talked about how it made me feel, that the car was a bit of a lifeline for me and that I’m not rich.”

I talked about how it made me feel, that the car was a bit of a lifeline for me and that I’m not rich. He had to see that just because our car is insured it doesn’t mean that we have the money to have this done to us.

“I let him know that when it happened I was so angry with him that I could have smacked him around the head, but explained that after a few hours the fear had kicked in and I was terrified he’d come back. I told him that my life’s not that great and that the theft had been quite devastating. 

“Hearing his tone of voice, I had no doubt in my mind that he was genuinely sorry and was realising that a small crime can mess somebody’s life around quite a bit.”

 “I think the recording took a few tries with Nick - Darren said he started listening to my words and then got upset and didn’t want to respond. It must have been hard for him to hear about the suffering that he’d caused.

“But when he started to talk, Nick said he’d taken on board what I said and that he was going to try to do something positive and turn himself around. He said that he was really sorry for what he put me through and that he understands about anxiety because his mum suffers from it too.

“He was quite shocked that I didn’t want him to suffer. I’d sent him a positive message saying that he should turn his life around.”

Hearing his tone of voice, I had no doubt in my mind that he was genuinely sorry and was realising that a small crime can mess somebody’s life around quite a bit.

“Also, he was quite shocked that I didn’t want him to suffer. I’d sent him a positive message saying that he should turn his life around, and his message came back really positive as well.

“It was a very positive experience and I now feel calm about what happened.”

“I couldn’t fault the way the restorative process was done and it definitely made me feel better. Hearing that I wasn’t picked on specifically and that the crime was just an opportunity was a big relief, and I felt like I could sleep a bit better. It was a very positive experience and I now feel calm about what happened.

“Restorative justice should be used, especially in cases where people have had their privacy invaded and their home broken into. Being told that the offender randomly picked you helps a lot to put your mind at rest. People really should be able to hear that from the person who burgled them.”

*Lucy and Nick’s names have been changed.  

Resource themes: 
Criminal justice, Victims, Youth justice
Resource categories: 
Case studies