Restorative Justice programme to tackle ASB on public transport celebrates successful first year

Published: 05-08-2015

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A scheme putting young vandals to work repairing damage they have caused on public transport has celebrated a successful first year.

The Restorative Justice pilot project was launched by Birmingham Youth Offending Service and the Safer Travel Partnership and encourages young people to recognise the harm their anti social behaviour (ASB) causes.

A total of 32 youngsters aged between 10 and 18-years-old from across Birmingham took part, cleaning up vandalised buses at National Express West Midlands’ Birmingham Central bus garage.

In that time none have re-offended on public transport and just two have re-offended – a rate of 8% which compares favourably with the national average for young people of around 32%.

NXWM was the victim in 38 out of 40 cases and loses approximately £1 million a year through criminal damage and loss of services because buses have to be withdrawn for repairs.

Peter Coates, Managing Director of National Express UK Bus, said: “The Safer Travel Partnership's Restorative Justice Project has been hugely successful and is very popular with all of our staff.

“The young people meet the staff who have to work hard to tackle their vandalism and see the face of their victim in a way they have not in the past.

“Similarly, our staff love this project as they see the youngsters who vandalise our vehicles being made to pay for their damage. It is also very encouraging that none of those who have been involved in the project have been caught vandalising our buses again."

Cllr Kath Hartley, Centro lead member for Putting Passengers First Committee, said: “No young person we have engaged with on this scheme has come back on to the Safer Travel radar.

“I am delighted this scheme is proving such a success as it gets young people to learn to take responsibility for their actions.

“Parents of offenders are also very supportive of the scheme as it means their children can learn and move on with their lives without the authorities having to resort to prosecution, often resulting in a criminal record.”

The scheme has cost a total of £22,000 and has been funded by Centro through the Transport Regeneration Fund, with match funding by Birmingham Youth Offending Service.

The scheme is cost effective - for every £1 spent on restorative justice the criminal justice system saves £9.

Funding is now being sought to pay for a permanent co-ordinator for the scheme working in a part-time capacity.

The Safer Travel Partnership is a collaboration between Centro, British Transport Police, West Midlands Police and transport operators.

It works to reassure the travelling public and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour on the public transport network.

The Birmingham Victims Champion represents people affected by crime and anti-social behaviour and works to ensure the police, courts and probation services meet their needs.