Burglar turns his life around after meeting victim
A REFORMED burglar has turned his life around after meeting one of his victims face to face.
Jamie Hooper broke into homes in Gloucestershire and stole whatever he could carry to feed his drug habit.
But when he found out the daughter of one of his victims was having nightmares as the result of his crime, he saw the light.
Jamie, 37, a warehouseman, from Churchdown, has put his criminal past behind him thanks to a restorative justice programme.
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He spoke to the Echo about the scheme, at a special conference in Cheltenham’s Pavillion, to mark the rollout of Restorative Justice across the rest of Gloucestershire.
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Jamie.
The conference is being organised by Restorative Gloucestershire – a partnership that includes Gloucestershire police, Victim Support and local councils – included speakers such as Gloucestershire police assistant chief constable Sally Crook and Superintendent Tony Godwin and Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl.
Two pilot projects have been running in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds since 2011.
Jamie, who works in Tewkesbury, added: “I met Lucy, the woman who’s house I burgled. I found out that her little girl was traumatised.
“I used to go out with someone who had a little girl and I thought how angry I would be if it was her.
“I’ve been through the court system since I was 13 and been through loads of these types of programmes. After you’ve done a prison sentence, there’s nothing that can scare you.
“Meeting Lucy was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. It gave me my conscience back.
“I agreed to write her daughter a letter, explaining that I wouldn’t be coming back. She felt better after reading that, apparently.
“I’m friends with her mum now and she’s added me on Facebook.”
Supt Godwin said: “Restorative Justice can be another alternative to punishment but it can also run alongside it.
“If it can turn five offenders away from crime then we can save hundreds of people from becoming victims.
“The victim can tell the offender exactly what they’ve done and the effect it has had on their lives.”
ACC Crook added: “It provides the opportunity for criminals to change their behaviour.”
Restorative Gloucestershire is looking for volunteers to bring together people affected by crime or anti-social behaviour and those who caused that harm.
Over the coming months, Gloucestershire police officers will be trained in how to use Restorative Justice and it is expected that around 30 officers will be trained at level 2 by the end of February.