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WATCH: Victim and offender speak about dangers of drink and drug-driving

Peter McCall and Karen Starkey

Cumbria Constabulary, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and restorative justice charity Remedi have worked together to create a video highlighting the result of drink and drug-driving.

The organisations have worked with Karen Starkey, who is from the Whitehaven area and who was the victim of a drink-driver in the summer of 2017.

Karen has spoken about the impact the collision has had on her life and how she was able to come to terms with what happened that day, culminating in meeting the man who crashed into her whilst unfit through drink and drugs.

Karen said: “Initially the anger set it. I thought, ‘this person who did this to me, how did he have the right? Why did he do it? Why did he choose me on that particular day?’

“All these thoughts went through my mind.”

However, Karen decided restorative justice would provide an opportunity for closure. Upon meeting the driver she found him to be genuinely remorseful.

She said: “I could see so much remorse in his eyes. I could see he was sorry. He seemed to speak to me from his heart.

“I could see he was sorry. I knew. I could tell. He seemed to speak to me from his heart.”

The drink and drug driver has spoken anonymously on the video about how he came to get behind the wheel whilst unfit and the impact the collision had on his own life.

In the video the driver, who is from West Cumbria, talks about how he thought for a split second that what he was doing was wrong but went ahead and drove anyway as he was only thinking about “his own gain”.

The driver found restorative justice, including meeting with and apologising to the victim, had helped him turn his life around.

Speaking in the video, he said: “Something could have gone wrong that night. I could have killed myself or someone else.

“It made me change. I had to change. It was going to be me or someone else dead.”

Peter McCall, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “People can be drawn into committing crime for many complex reasons. I believe that there are all sorts of answers to rehabilitation depending on the circumstances of each case. It can be as much about learning a lesson as it is about punishment because punishment isn’t always the best answer.

“Restorative justice is just one of the tools in the bag for dealing with crimes of all sorts. I think the answer to policing and setting standards is that there is no single answer. In many cases, relatively low-level crimes can be dealt with in a way that’s better than going through the court system and potentially avoid criminalising, particularly young people for making a stupid or ill-judged mistake which can blight their whole lives.

“Restorative justice is not a soft option. In some cases it has had real impact and caused people to face their victims, accept their responsibility and most importantly, change their behaviour. By making people understand what the impact of their actions have on the victim the offender is much more likely to steer clear of reoffending.”

Mobile Support Group Inspector Steve Minnikin said: “We have released this video at a time when police forces all around the country are warning drivers about the dangers of getting behind the wheel whilst unfit through drink or drugs.

“It is our hope that listening to a drink-driver and his victim talk about the impact on their lives – and how much worse the outcome could have been – will help open eyes.

“There is no excuse for getting behind the wheel whilst unfit. If you make that decision the journey you are taking could be your last, or could result in you killing someone.”

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