Council chiefs in St Helens have welcomed plans to introduce more restorative justice schemes to help communities recover from crime.
Restorative justice includes community reparation – work done by children and young people who have offended in the community – and direct reparation to victims of the crime, whether an individual or an organisation.
Direct reparation can help to answer many of the questions that victims of crime have about their experience.
The Youth Offending Service supports children and young people and the victims of their crimes, and has a strong partnership with Merseyside Police.
Coun Lisa Preston, cabinet member for community safety, said: “For those that take up the offer of restorative justice, we have found this to be highly effective in enabling both victims and offenders to move on from what has happened.
“For victims it can give back control of their lives, or they can find comfort in understanding the young person’s motives, as for many the crucial question is ‘why me?’.
“And the children and young people that engage in restorative justice are less likely to reoffend as they come to see the genuine harm they’ve inflicted.”
Recently, the Youth Offending Service was involved with a local nursery that became the victim of burglary by a young person.
Later the young person was arrested and charged with the offence, but he was willing to take part in restorative justice with the nursery.
With support from YOS the young person built a new chicken coop for the nursery’s hens and provided some eggs for the children to incubate and hatch.
The nursery manager said of the process: “We thought it would help the young person to realise what they had done. The best thing about this experience was the finished coop and the knowledge that it may have helped the young person to turn their outlook around.”
YOS also has a strong partnership with Helena Partnerships.
Neil Fairhurst, Senior Neighbourhood Manager said: “Working with the YOS on restorative justice offers a positive outcome for the victim and can help a young person not to enter the Criminal Justice System.”
Janine Saleh, YOS Manager said: “We work in partnership with Helena when they are direct victims of criminal damage, and we’re also about to start a joint community project at Parr Mount sheltered housing.
“Young people engaged in our service will create a sensory garden for the older vulnerable residents to enjoy.
“Restorative justice is about repairing harm, easing tension and building relationships. As a service we are actively encouraging and promoting restorative justice with all of the victims, children and young people we are working with.”