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Last Updated: Monday November 17 2008 12:42 GMT

Maddy checks out new punishment for kids

A graphic of the smashed window

Police in some parts of the UK are using a new way of dealing with kids who break the law.

Instead of being told off and getting a criminal record, some are being brought face-to-face with the people they've hurt through their crimes.

Harry (not his real name) is one of the children in Dorset who've been punished using the new meeting scheme. Maddy went to meet him...


"It was pouring with rain when we turned up at the train station where Harry was playing when he got into trouble over the summer. It's a really tiny one, without a ticket office or even a platform.

Maddy talks to Harry
The only trains that run on the tracks are old steam trains used by tourists at weekends.

They're green and shiny with a black engine at the front, and look a bit like something out of a Harry Potter movie. There's even a castle just up the road too!

Lots of people go walking and camping in this area, and it's a brilliant place to visit if you like the countryside.

But I could see why some people might find it boring, because there isn't much else to do.

There are no playgrounds or cinemas nearby. The campsite where Harry was staying has got a shower block and a shop and that's about it.

Harry was so bored he ended up throwing stones at one of the steam trains.

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What is restorative justice?

One of the windows smashed causing thousands of pounds of damage and many of the people on the train were frightened.

I wanted to find out how Harry feels about it all now. But it was too wet to talk to him by the tracks so we went to shelter inside a bigger train station nearby.

Harry was really friendly and I could tell he felt guilty about the damage he caused.

He told me he'd agreed to chat to Newsround to try to stop other kids doing anything similar.

Embarrassed

I think meeting the people who work on the train line definitely helped Harry understand why what started as a bit of fun ended up causing so many problems.

He was very embarrassed when he found out how much his actions had hurt and inconvenienced people.

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Does restorative justice work?

And he told us he never wants to have that feeling again, so he's going to be avoiding getting into trouble from now on.

Harry reckons this kind of punishment works, and he would like to see more police forces using it on children.

Some people don't think it's tough enough though.

They prefer more traditional ways of dealing with kids who commit crimes, like telling them off at police stations and recording their details so other people can find out about what they did wrong, even years later.

There are definitely good and bad points about both ways of punishing children.

You can find out more about them by watching my report and reading more about this topic by clicking on the links on the right hand side of this page.

Whatever you think, I hope you'll agree that Harry is really sorry."

Maddy

(Harry is not the boy's real name.)