Youth crime project sees just one child re-offend

Left, PC Mark Walsh, from Fareham, and PCC Simon Hayes and the team of Hampshire Community Court volunteers at their graduation ceremony
Left, PC Mark Walsh, from Fareham, and PCC Simon Hayes and the team of Hampshire Community Court volunteers at their graduation ceremony

REGIONAL: Police warning after drink-driver loses control and falls off moped

  • Scheme has been going for six months
  • Nearly 70 youngsters have been judged by peers
  • Offenders meet their victims
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A SCHEME tackling youth offending has been hailed as success.

It comes as just one child out of 67 who went through Hampshire Community Court reoffended in six months.

The restorative justice project was set up by Hampshire police’s PC Mark Walsh.

The Fareham officer said: ‘It’s a positive start. I’m delighted that we’re starting to see some fruits of our labour.’

He added it was important to increase the evidence base for the scheme to show the effect of the project.

PC Walsh said 73 per cent of youngsters reoffend within 12 months after being released from custody.

The scheme has seen children aged 10 to 17 meet their victim and police.

A panel of volunteers, aged 14 to 21, then helps to decide how the child should be dealt with.

One 15-year-old girl went through the scheme after she was caught with cannabis she was carrying for her boyfriend.

PC Walsh said the girl had not known that possessing the class B drug was an offence.

The peer court decided she should read up on the drug awareness charity Talk to Frank’s website and produce a poster about the drug.

PC Walsh added: ‘She was a first-time offender. We took a holistic approach.’

The scheme, which takes youngsters from Fareham and Gosport, is such a success a trial will start in Basingstoke.

Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes funds the scheme through his budget.

Mr Hayes said: ‘It’s been very successfully run.

‘We’re looking to run a second pilot in the near future in a different part of Hampshire.

‘It’s young people, influencing the life decisions of other young people.

‘They’re not being told what to do – it’s reverse peer pressure.’

He added a lot of research had been done by PC Walsh.

PC Walsh travelled to six cities across America in 2013 to find out about the ‘community court’ concept.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh praised the work, adding: ‘There will always be a place for traditional justice but traditional justice is very expensive.’