A meeting between the offender and the victim after a crime has been committed is a delicate situation. Still, it can generate several positive effects.
“Mediation is an untapped resource that seems relevant today, as very young people are drawn into crime. In schools, where the children spend their days, mediation could be a great method. Here, they could be taught conflict management at an early age”, says Lottie Wahlin.
For 20 years, she has been working with mediation in various ways, both in practice and in research. For example, for five years she worked at the Swedish Crime Prevention Council on a government assignment aimed at implementing mediation and at training mediators throughout the country.
“Since then mediation has been used less and less. Nonetheless, police and prosecutors are obliged to consider mediation, and municipalities are obliged to offer mediation to all young offenders under the age of 21 as well as cooperation talks or mediation in custody disputes. Importantly, the method builds on voluntary participation”, Lottie Wahlin says.
"The victim may feel better"
As a rule, mediators have a degree in social work. In preparation for a mediation between offenders and victims of crimes, there are separate meetings where one talks through what happened to avoid surprises at the final meeting between offender and victim.
“In the joint meeting, no abuse, violence, or threats are allowed. Participants must not interrupt each other, and both are allowed to finish even if their versions of the events differ. The mediator must remain impartial and help with communication”, Lottie Wahlin says.
International research shows that mediation can have beneficial effects as it can, for example, reduce recidivism.
“Moreover, many studies have shown that there are positive effects for the victim who may feel better, feel less angry and afraid, and have an easier time moving on. Studies also show that both parties gain more confidence in the justice system, which is a good thing because young people in vulnerable areas rarely have confidence in the justice system or in the authorities”, Lottie Wahlin says.