Why I befriended the bomber who killed my father

Alert message sent 01/11/2018 13:44:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police


There's a chance to hear the extraordinary story of Jo Berry, who befriended the IRA man who killed her father, when she speaks in Salisbury during Restorative Justice Week.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson, is seeking volunteers willing to be trained to bring victims of crime and offenders together in a process known as restorative justice.

He said: "I have had the good fortune to hear Jo speak on a couple of occasions. She has dedicated herself to conflict resolution and has shown great courage in meeting and then becoming friends with the man responsible for her father's murder."

Anyone interested in finding out about the benefits of restorative justice and hearing Ms Berry speak will be warmly welcomed at The Fisherton Hall, St Paul's Salisbury in Fisherton Street SP2 7QW on Thursday 22 November from 7pm to 9pm. Admission is free and there is free parking in the church car park.

Ms Berry's father, Sir Anthony Berry, was an MP in Margaret Thatcher's government. He was one of five people killed in the 1984 attack on the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the party conference. More than 30 others were injured.

Pat Magee served 14 years in jail for the bombing before being released early under the Good Friday agreement in 1999. He agreed to meet Ms Berry - at her request - the following year. Since then they have become friends and shared platforms more than 150 times to speak about reconciliation.

On the 25th anniversary of the bombing Ms Berry launched Building Bridges for Peace, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes peace and conflict resolution.

Restorative Together, a service commissioned and funded by Mr Macpherson, was launched in January 2016. Using volunteer facilitators, it puts those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm in contact, enabling everyone affected to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

Restorative Together was recently awarded the Restorative Service Quality Mark by the Restorative Justice Council. Volunteer facilitators won an award for their work in the recent South West Regional Police Awards.

Restorative justice is part of a wider approach known as restorative practice which can be used anywhere to prevent conflict, build relationships and repair harm by enabling people to communicate effectively and positively. This approach is increasingly being used in schools (such as Sarum Academy in Salisbury), children's services, workplaces, hospitals, communities and the criminal justice system.

Mr Macpherson said: "Jo Berry has a remarkable story to tell and I hope that people who believe they could fit the bill as restorative justice facilitators, or who simply are interested in the concept, will come along to hear Jo Berry speak and to find out more."

He said the ideal people for the role are non-judgmental and fair minded with excellent listening skills who want to make a positive contribution to their community.

After completing a three-day training course, it's likely that the volunteers will be asked to take on up to three cases a year. Each case would involve about six to 15 hours spread over a number of weeks.

Volunteers need to be 18 or over with excellent communication skills; willing to go through police vetting; able to remain impartial and to have the time available and be flexible enough to attend training and supervision as needed. In return, says the Commissioner, volunteers will gain a number of benefits:

  • Three day initial training course to become a level two restorative justice facilitator

  • Continuing supervision with every case

  • Opportunities for further training

  • Skills and experience in the growing field of restorative justice

  • An opportunity to work with professionals from police, probation and other organisations

  • Being able to help victims deal with their experiences and move on

  • Opportunities to facilitate interesting and challenging cases

  • Being part of a process of resolving conflicts and creating safer communities

For more information, please email: restorativetogether@wiltshire.pcc.pnn.gov.uk To apply to become a restorative justice facilitator, please go to https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/article/3572/Restorative-Justice-Facilitator-Volunteer

Please email your completed form to: volunteercoordinator@wiltshire.pnn.police.uk Alternatively you can post it to Volunteer Coordinator, Wiltshire Police, London Road, Devizes SN10 2DN.

For general information about restorative justice, please go to the Restorative Justice area of the PCC website where you can watch videos of people involved, including Sarum Academy students. You can find further information at https://restorativejustice.org.uk

Message sent by
Paul Deal (Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Communications Officer, Wiltshire)

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