Woman who was glassed only received a ‘child-like apology’ as police tsar criticises force for using restorative justice

Rozina Sabur
Amy Tombs, 36, has branded restorative justice a joke after receiving a 'childlike' apology from her attacker - (c) North News & Pictures ltd

A woman who was glassed only received a "child-like apology" from her attacker as a police and crime commissioner (PCC) criticised the force for using restorative justice.

Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger has championed restorative justice, which is sometimes used to bring victims and perpetrators together, but said his force was wrong to use it in this case.

Amy Tombs claimed she was glassed in the face by a woman in Lotus Lounge, near Stockton-on-Tees several weeks ago and reported it to police . 

Amy Tombs, 36, has branded restorative justice a joke after receiving a 'childlike' apology from her attacker Credit: North News / NNP 

She was sent the brief, hastily written note a week after she was hit in the face at the bar in Yarm.

The 36-year-old, who claimed she suffered a black eye and facial and chest abrasions in the attack, said the note "boiled my blood" and branded restorative justice a "joke".

The scrawled letter contains fewer than 20 words and is littered with poor grammar and punctuation.

Her 35-year-old attacker made a counter-claim of assault, and as there were no witnesses or clear CCTV, there was not enough evidence to pursue the case, said police.

Amy Tombs, 36, has branded restorative justice a joke after receiving a 'childlike' apology from her attacker Credit: NNP / Richard Rayner

The restorative justice system, which has been championed by Mr Coppinger, is used in some cases to bring perpetrators face to face with victims to see the impact of the crime.

Ms Tomb said she was unhappy that restorative justice was used to end the case, but that the police told her she had no choice.

Mr Coppinger admitted that in this case, its use was a "good faith mistake" by an officer.

But Ms Tombs said: "I got this note which was worse than something my son would write at school to apologise for something. She hadn't even bothered to write a proper apology. I wanted her to be cautioned, but they told me they didn't want to do that because it would affect her job.

"I didn't want to do restorative justice but they told me I had to. I have since found out that the victim has to consent to this for it to go ahead. The whole thing was a joke."

Mr Coppinger said: "Any investigation by Cleveland Police needs to be victim focused and restorative justice can often be the most effective way of resolving a complaint.

"Restorative Justice has an important part to play in the criminal justice process.

"Used appropriately it can help bring closure to victims, benefit communities and divert offenders from future criminality and it has been used to successfully resolve over 500 lower-level cases in Cleveland in the past year.

"I have been advised that this was a complex case involving two complainants and insufficient evidence to bring a charge.

"It would appear the police officer has made a good faith mistake in trying to use RJ to resolve this case.

"In fact RJ should not have been used in this matter and I understand that officer has now been reminded of the correct procedure.

"It is important that any victim of crime feels confident to come forward and report incidents to the police and I would urge them to do so."

Amy Tombs, 36, has branded restorative justice a joke after receiving a 'childlike' apology from her attacker Credit: Richard Rayner / NNP

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: "One of the investigating officers mistakenly believed that the incident between the two women could be dealt with as restorative justice.

"However, it was not suitable for restorative justice and the officer has since been reminded of the criteria to follow."

She said that police later received another complaint regarding posts on social media, and a harassment warning was issued. 

Ms Tombs, from Middlesbrough, said police had spoken to her and warned her about harassment, although she said she had only posted the note on Facebook because she was so horrified by it.

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