21 June 2017
Due to recent media attention on the case of Restorative Justice involving worrying of sheep, the Acting Chief of Police Steve Riley issues this press release.
The Police investigate allegations of criminal offences. Not all Police investigations result in matters going to court. Out of Court Disposals such as Restorative Justice, Community Resolutions, and Cautions, are deemed appropriate in certain cases.
As the Acting Chief of Police, I became aware of this incident on 23 May 2017 and allocated it to a local police officer who carried out the investigation in relation to the worrying of sheep incident on 22 May 2017.
Worrying of sheep or other domestic animals is a criminal offence. in this case, the dogs belonged to the offender only and the sheep belonged to the ‘Victim’. The offender’s dogs chased the victim’s sheep. Two of the victim’s sheep were injured and the following day it was established that one of the two sheep had died and the other required veterinary treatment. The vet reported this matter to the Police who carried out the investigation. The Police obtained statements from witnesses. Witnesses saw the offender’s dogs chase the victim’s sheep. One witness said that he’d seen one dog chase a sheep to the far end of the paddock. Another witness said that he saw a sheep run across the paddock, tumble and appeared to have been caught up in the wire. The veterinary surgeon was unable to confirm the cause of death of the dead sheep. The likely cause of death was the chasing by the offender’s dogs. Contact was established with the victim the same day and from the very beginning the offender accepted responsibility for the actions of the dogs and the consequences of these actions.
The avenues open to the Police
The Police spoke to the victim on 23 May 2017 and the victim indicated that he did not want to go to court. The full range of options was considered by the Police following a full Police investigation. In doing this, the Police followed their internal policies, disregarding any personalities involved. This case has been managed using the same processes utilised in the other cases where Restorative Justice has been used. It is not common practice for the Police to make the identities of parties to Restorative Justice public.
This is one type of community resolution in the Out of Court Disposal policies of St Helena Police since July 2016. Restorative Justice has been already used successfully in four cases. Restorative Justice is a tool that uses informal agreement between the parties as opposed to progression through the criminal justice system. It is not possible to use Restorative Justice in cases where the nature of the offence is so serious that it must be heard in court. The process is victim led and studies from its use in the UK show a high level of victim satisfaction as the victim is closely involved in the entire process.
In this case, it was possible to use Restorative Justice because the victim did not want to go to court and agreed to it being used. The victim told the Police that he wanted to engage with Restorative Justice. The victim said what he wanted – compensation and an apology and awareness raised by the Police amongst members of the public walking their dogs. The victim stated this before the victim learnt the identity of the offender. The victim confirmed his wishes after learning about the offender’s identity. The victim repeated that he did not want to go to court and wanted compensation for the damage and an apology. On 4 June 2017 the investigating officer, the victim and the offender met and signed a Restorative Justice Agreement. Throughout the entire investigation, the offender has accepted full responsibility for the actions of the dogs. At the meeting, the offender apologised to the victim and provided the compensation requested by the victim for the loss of the sheep. The Police investigation and outcome have been documented in the Police file.
As Acting Chief of Police, I believe that the Police acted appropriately in using the tool of Restorative Justice in this instance. The Police used a victim-led process. The process was managed by the Police at all times. The wishes and feelings of the victim were respected by the Police and the offender agreed to the wishes of the victim. As Acting Chief of Police, I acknowledge the community and media interest in this case. I also acknowledge that even though Restorative Justice has been used previously on St Helena and some of these uses publicised, much more information should have been given to the public about it prior to its introduction in July 2016.
It is essential that the Police maintain the trust and confidence of the community and for this reason I have passed the file to the Attorney General to read and consider if the use of Restorative Justice was appropriate in these circumstances.
#StHelena #StHelenaPolice #RestorativeJustice
Acting Chief of Police, Steve Riley
20 June 2017