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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 02:52 GMT 03:52 UK
New 'youth juries' to punish yobs
Graffiti
Offenders could be ordered to clean up graffiti they have created
Teenage vandals, bullies and binge drinkers are to have punishments decided by other youngsters in a pilot project to be launched later this year.

"Youth juries" of students aged from 10 to 17 will hear cases where other young people have allegedly caused trouble.

Offenders could then be ordered to pay cash, clean up graffiti or write a letter of apology to their victim.

The 487,000 pilot scheme, the first in the UK, will be launched in Preston, Lancashire, in December.

The idea comes from an US project based on the theory that young people are affected more by peer pressure to change their ways than by adults such as police officers or magistrates.

'No soft option'

Simon Evans, from Nacro, the crime reduction charity leading the project, said that teenagers themselves thought young offenders would be more likely to be influenced by their peers.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Can we not just bring back corporal punishment. Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper, and I bet it would work too
Phil Howell, Burnham

"It makes a lot more sense to them than someone like me, at 42, telling them you've been bad, and here's a fine," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"That really doesn't change their psyche."

The young "judges" will be drawn from local schools and will be given special training and help from adults for their role.

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, similar to ASBOs, will be drawn up where necessary, which the young defendant must obey.

Chief Superintendent Michael Barton, of Lancashire Constabulary which is involved in the project, said it was important to show the public that restorative justice was "not a soft option".

"By involving young people we can develop strong local communities," he said.




SEE ALSO
The teenage judges
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