Friday 12 July 2024
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Nottingham

Restorative justice scheme helps to turn young offenders away from crime

A project run by Nottinghamshire Police is helping to rehabilitate young offenders and divert them away from the criminal justice system.

Through its youth interventions team, the force delivers a restorative justice programme to improve outcomes for young people who have been involved in crime.

Restorative justice incorporates a trauma informed approach which recognises that young people entering the criminal justice system often come from complex backgrounds and may have had adverse childhood experiences which have increased the likelihood of offending.

It’s designed to help young people between the ages of 10 and 18 to take ownership of their actions, repair the harm they have caused to the community and through this, reduce the chances of them reoffending.

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It also enables the young person to raise any personal issues they are having at home or school so that appropriate support can be given.

A young person is enrolled onto the scheme if a panel of experts, including officers and social care practitioners, agree the individual would benefit from the diversionary scheme to reduce their reoffending.

One of the community projects that supports the scheme includes the Arches, a Nottingham-based organisation which provides emergency furniture and household items to people in need.

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Through the restorative justice scheme, the young people on the programme help to sand down and load the furniture on to vans ready for people to collect.

Participants in the programme also receive educational sessions on specific criminal offences, for example, officers recently worked with a young person about the dangers and consequences of knife crime after an incident at their home.

Support with anger management has also been given, for example our officers helped a young person who often became aggressive in public places. He was given help to better manage his behaviour which meant he was no longer causing anti-social behaviour.

Young people on the programme have recently visited Stonebridge City Farm in the city centre and helped by litter picking around the site, as well as tidying other public areas around the city.

Other activities have involved preparing food bank parcels which are then donated to Gurdwara temples around Nottingham.

Officers work with young people for as long as necessary to help them and this can range from just two sessions to multiple sessions over several months.

PCSO Emma Dean said:

“It’s very rewarding being able to help better the lives of young people that have started to offend and guide them in a more positive direction.

“A standout case to me was a young person that previously felt that crime was his only option because he witnessed those close to him getting involved with crime.

“I worked with him to realise that employment and educational opportunities were available to him, and he has now gone on to stop offending and make a new life for himself.

“The young people we work with really benefit from the programme and enjoy having the opportunity to get out and give back to the communities they live in.”

Detective Inspector Rich Guy, from Nottinghamshire Police’s Youth Interventions team said:

“These community schemes are invaluable in helping to reduce reoffending by engaging with young people from often disadvantaged backgrounds and giving them a safe space to reflect on their behaviour.

“We know that having a criminal record can significantly impact opportunities in later life and so this programme helps to give young people a second chance while also reducing the harm that offences like anti-social behaviour and criminal damage can cause.”

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