Victims and criminals face to face

VICTIMS and criminals are being brought face-to-face in a groundbreaking project from Suffolk's Youth Offending Service.As part of the county's reparation and mediation service, it aims to help both sides move on after a crime has been committed.

VICTIMS and criminals are being brought face-to-face in a groundbreaking project from Suffolk's Youth Offending Service.

As part of the county's reparation and mediation service, it aims to help both sides move on after a crime has been committed.

Princess Anne visited Endeavour House in Ipswich and heard details of the scheme as well as officially launching the Suffolk Mediation service which deals with a wide range of issues including boundary disputes, noise, parking disagreements and verbal abuse.

Daniel Harrison, 15, was assaulted outside his school and took part in the initiative.

He said: "It seemed like such a good idea because you don't hear much about the victim or the offender after the crime.

"It went well. We talked about why it happened and what should happen to offenders.

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"I found out why some people commit crime and it was good for me to know the reasons behind the things that happen."

One sixteen year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of criminal damage after he smashed a car wing mirror.

He said: "It was really nerve-racking. The woman was fine with me and she said she just felt sorry for me.

"She put what happened down to the drink and she also said I wasn't the ring leader.

"It's an idea that I think is really good and worth carrying on for other victims and offenders.

"The youth offending service has been brilliant in getting me involved.

"It really changes your attitude."

A spokesman for the Youth Offending Service said: "Some victims just chose to receive basic information about the case and the young person's progress on their court sentence, while others prefer to meet up with the offender in a closely supervised setting.

"Research into 'restorative justice' shows that victims who participate, particularly in direct meetings, feel that their views count more, they get better information and are more likely to get what they want."

n. Do you think this initiative is a good idea? Has it worked for you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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