YOUNG people who volunteer their time to conduct a community court have received praise from the MP for Fareham.
Suella Fernandes said she was impressed by the young people volunteering their time and skills as part of Hampshire Community Court at Fareham police station.
The court is the first in the country to hold peer-led hearings involving young people who have offended and victims of a crime to establish what harm has been caused and how it can be repaired.
The programme is only available in suitable cases as an alternative to prosecution via criminal courts.
Under the supervision of PC Mark Walsh, the volunteers are trained to operate a peer court to decide the outcomes for suitable young, first-time offenders who commit certain crimes.
Miss Fernandes attended one of the hearings involving a case of shoplifting.
She said: ‘I hope that this pilot is rolled out further as it serves an invaluable purpose of effectively dealing with minor and first-time offending outside the formal court system.’
The hearing’s panel is made up of volunteers aged 14 to 25 and the respondent and victim have an opportunity to have their say.
After the hearing, the respondent is given their outcome by the court officer.
It is not considered a criminal conviction.