Restorative justice used for young Teesside offenders

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More than 160 young offenders on Teesside have been dealt with using restorative justice instead of the courts in four months.

It allows victims a say over punishment and requires reparation by the culprit.

Cleveland Police said the measure avoided putting first-time offenders through the justice system.

Assistant Chief Constable Sean White said police did not want to criminalise youngsters for "acts of mischief or nuisance in the heat of the moment".

The system is not used for more serious crimes such as domestic abuse, assault, burglary and offences involving weapons.

'Not soft option'

Discussions on expanding the scheme are taking place between Middlesbrough Council and the Probation Service.

Other forces have used the approach in thousands of cases a year and for more serious offences.

The system was officially launched by Cleveland Police in May, since when the force has used it to deal with 164 incidents.

Reparation suggested by victims has included removing graffiti or repairing damage.

"While this approach is working well, it's not a soft option and young people only get one chance to make a commitment to change their behaviour," Mr White added.

Cleveland police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger said: "Restorative justice is an excellent tool for victims, giving them a voice and allowing them to meet with the young offender first hand to explain the impact of their actions."

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