Shoplifting - A Restorative Intervention
A referral was received for a Level 2 Restorative Justice intervention from the police in relation to a shop lifting offence. The wrongdoer had taken a tag removal device into a store in an attempt to shoplift. It was agreed that this crime would be dealt with by using a restorative justice intervention as this was her first offence. Unfortunately, the store was reluctant to engage in the process, so after consultation with the police, we agreed to take the wrongdoer through a restorative process in the hope it would enable her to understand the wider impact of her shoplifting on the store and encourage her to make different choices in the future.
Our first meeting with her allowed us to explore some of the reasons behind her decision to steal from the store. The wrongdoer was very open and explained she had done it to support a drug habit that she had fallen back into after an extended period of abstinence. She explained she had not stolen before and was aware that because of her nerves, her erratic behaviour would have stood out and made her look suspicious, so it was inevitable she was apprehended. We delved further and she recognised the reason she had returned to drugs, was because she was struggling to deal with a death in the family and she was finding it difficult to cope.The wrongdoer explained that she had a good job, two children and husband. We encouraged her to consider the consequences of a criminal conviction on her life. She determined that should she have received a conviction, she would lose her job, suffer financially, her husband, children and extended family would be devastated and she would be deeply ashamed. She also came to establish the wider implication of her crime on the store. The losses they incur due to theft, staff taken from the shop floor having to deal with the situation and obviously, police time in attending the incident.
We explored realistic changes she felt she could make for the future and whilst a promise to not to steal again was very important, she recognised that she needed to rethink her coping mechanisms to ensure she didn’t return to taking drugs to escape from her problems. We worked with the wrongdoer to put together a practical plan of what she would do the next time life got difficult.
The feedback we received from the wrongdoer after the process, stated that she was grateful to have been given the opportunity of taking part in a restorative intervention. She explained that her experience had been the shock she needed and it had made her take stock of life and make the decision to engage in rehabilitation and reconnect with family members who could support her in her endeavours to make positive changes in her life. She deeply regretted the harm she had caused to all involved, particularly on her family.
As part of the restorative intervention, this information was fed back and the decision was made by the police to dispose of the crime as no further action required and the wrongdoer was not criminalised.
So not your typical restorative justice process, but a restorative approach all the same, in helping someone to recognise the error of their ways and the importance of making more positive choices in the future.