West Shore RCMP is hoping to double the number of restorative justice cases it takes on.
Currently, roughly one case is handled every month or month and a half by the department, according to Const. Alex Berube, spokesperson for West Shore RCMP. But Berube said the detachment hopes to bump that up to two a month when officers get more familiar with the process of submitting files to restorative justice programs.
“There is a lot of back and forth with a member when they are referring a file for the first time,” Berube said in an email.
Each referral requires the offender and victim to agree upon and complete a community justice agreement. Only first-time offenders are eligible to have their case diverted from court and through a restorative justice program.
Once an agreement is signed, trained volunteers — West Shore RCMP currently has eight — arrange a forum where the person admitted to the program admits wrongdoing, sometimes with the victim there, and brings forward ideas of community service they can do for the harm they have caused. Forums have been held at the Langford Legion since the pandemic began. The whole process takes between two to three months.
In the first half of 2021, there were seven restorative justice referral cases involving 16 offenders, multiple victims and community representatives, according to the West Shore RCMP’s biannual report.
The West Shore RCMP also rolled out its youth outreach team, a referral-based program that tries to provide mentorship to at-risk youth. The team is comprised of a youth counsellor and a police officer.