Offenders scrub graffiti in New Waltham as part of community payback
YOUNG criminals are today giving something back to the communities they have hurt.
The Young Offenders Services (YOS) for North East Lincolnshire has offenders in New Waltham scrubbing off the graffiti scrawled inside the bus shelters of the village as punishment for offences they have committed.
It comes as the borough' s YOS takes a more "restorative" approach to young offenders by letting victims have their say on what should happen to people who have done them wrong.
A lot of community payback is carried out in Grimsby town centre, but it is thought that the fear of crime is greater in rural areas like Waltham, New Waltham and Humberston.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
This has lead the YOS to venture to the villages, believing it the best way to alleviate residents' fear of crime.
Team leader Lynne MacPhearson said: "It is a really positive approach. A lot of the work we do is just in Grimsby or Cleethorpes so it is a good way of engaging with the rural community.
"It also dispels some of the fear of crime, which is often worse or as bad as the crime itself.
"Sometimes, older people or those who live in rural communities have a fear of young people or crime.
"This shows them young people are giving something back and are capable of doing something positive.
"Sometimes people see this as a soft touch, but in many ways it is the opposite. It is a lot harder for a young person to meet the victim of their crime.
"It isn't easy for them to see the person they burgled from or read the letter from them explaining how hard it has been for them since they committed their crime.
"With this approach there is nowhere for them to hide and no excuses they can make up."
The clean-up follows on from that of the green media boxes, which were tagged in white spray paint in New Waltham.
One young offender, known only as Lisa, said: "It's taught me to think before I act. I would like to work as a gardener in the future and this will help me get new skills. Its also helped my confidence.
"I think this approach works better because its helpful to the community to pay back, not to be just punished.
"The victim gets to know we've done this work and it shows them that we're really sorry for the offence."
It was organised after Lynne met parish councillor Lisa Gibson.
Lynne said: "We try to get them to go back into the area they either live in or have impacted in some way. The person who painted over the graffiti on the media boxes lived in the area, although hadn't done the graffiti themselves.
"By having them work in their own areas, it gives them a sense of responsibility to the place they live and they are much less likely to vandalise that area again because they have realised the cost and the damage it causes."
The YOS is also involved in a wide range of projects including a young people's allotment, renovating disused buildings, making bird and bat boxes and litter-picking.