Criminal Damage –
An arts group contacted a local NGO providing youth services after several young people fired slingshots through the windows of their office. The group identified one of the young people and provided a description of the others. It emerged that the NGO already worked and had a relationship with the young people in question.
Their first priority was to get the slingshots from the young people, as the youth service were concerned that they might injure someone. A youth worker phoned one of the young people in the group and asked him to come over. When the young person arrived, the youth worker, who knew him well, explained that they had received the call from a local group stating that a group of young people matching his peer group’s description had fired a slingshot through the office window. He admitted his involvement straight away. The youth worker asked him if he could have the slingshots because of his concern that someone might be injured or more damage could happen. The young person then brought two high-powered slingshots over and handed them into the youth service. The youth worker also asked him to bring over his friends who were involved. When they arrived, the youth worker explained to him that they had been seen and it would be better if they talked through what happened, and there might otherwise be worse consequences for them.
The youth worker took the young people through the restorative questions. He also explained that they had damaged a local Council building, and that people from that Council office might want to speak to their parents and ask that the window be paid for.
The youth worker asked the young people how they would feel about taking responsibility for what they had done and meeting some of the people who were affected to try and make up for it in some way. They were worried about phone calls to their parents, but the youth worker told them that, at this point, this was out of their control, and it would be better if they took responsibility.
The youth worker explained how a restorative conference could be used as a way of learning from this and not getting into trouble again, although he would need to speak to the people who worked in the office to ask if they were willing to participate. The young people agreed, and, when they left, the youth worker called someone from the Council who was in the office at the time of the incident, explaining that he had identified the children involved and they were willing to participate in a restorative conference, the meaning of which he explained to the Council employee. That person agreed to be part of the restorative process, although they also contacted the parents separately as they wanted the cost of the window reimbursed.
The next day happened to be the day that the group of young people would attend the youth centre anyway. The youth worker went through the conference process with them to prepare them for participating. He explained that the employee who was in the office at the time was willing to meet them, but only if they were truly sorry for what happened and willing to make amends in some way.
Upon meeting the Council employee in the restorative conference, the young people were respectful and apologetic, and offered to do something for her. She said that she had decided that she only wanted them to listen to her explain what she does and why her work and those buildings are important to the area. She explained about community arts and invited them to meet a local artist, which they agreed to do.
Shortly thereafter, a local artist came to the youth centre and showed them some of his art of the local flats, as well as doing some drawing with them. The group then further discussed the importance of arts and of taking care of their community.