A centre which helps to deal with young offenders is proving a big success in Rotherham.
The Rotherham Attendance Centre has been offering restorative justic disposals courses just over 12 months. Since it started in April, last year, there have been 103 young people referred to the programme and only eight of them have reoffended.
An original Attendance Centre had been operating in Rotherham since the 1940s and is part of the Criminal Justice System. It provided Rotherham Magistrates’ Court with a sentencing option and service for dealing with young offenders from the age of 10 to 17.
Over the years the centre has moved with the time and adjusted with the changes and demands of the Criminal Justice System and the courts.
Offenders now attend a two hour approved programme for young offenders, and is educational in its input and engages the attendees to address their offending behaviour, with a positive message to keep out of trouble, and make a success of their lives and future.
Last April, the centre moved to South Yorkshire Police’s Lifewise Centre, Hellaby, Rotherham.
The state-of-the-art facilities at the Lifewise Centre have enhanced an already successful scheme by incorporating the use of the set at Hellaby to bring real life scenarios to the course. The set resembles that of film and television studios and can be used to act out events in the police station custody facility, the magistrates court and the prison cell block.
The attendance centre operates from 10am to 12 noon on alternate Saturdays.
Police Constable Wayne Haywood, said: “I became involved with work at the centre in 2005 as part of my secondment to Rotherham Youth Offending Services. I helped update some of the programmes delivered to bring them more into line with the times we were living in such as a gun, knife and violent crime presentation and an up to date drug and alcohol programme.”
“Our earliest involvement with young offenders at the time were those in receipt of a final warning from the police of which a percentage were referred to us from the Youth Offending Service.”
“At the time there was no process for direct referral to us by South Yorkshire Police. With the introduction of restorative justice disposals I saw a way to change this at minimal cost. This meant we could deliver a crime and consequence package to offenders at the very earliest opportunity without the need to criminalise them.”
“From the 103 young people that we have delivered the sessions to, only eight have re-offended, proving that the scheme is educating young people into the consequences of becoming involved in crime and the impact it can have on their safety and future decisions.”
Manager of the Rotherham Attendance Centre, Tony Bradshaw, said: ”My involvement with the attendance centre goes way back to 1984. Back then offenders received a two hour crime and consequences session. Now the course is interactive and extremely educational. The facilities at the Lifewise Centre bring the course to life and help offenders understand the error of their ways.”
“The scheme saves police officers operational time and provides feedback to police after the attendance by the young offenders. Many victims are supportive of the scheme, and 95 per cent of parents of these young people show an interest in the session content and approve of the efforts being made to keep their respective child out of future trouble with the law.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright said: “It’s great news that the Attendance Centre has moved into Lifewise. The facilities there are outstanding and provide the perfect backdrop for the sessions.”
“I’m very pleased that the scheme seems to have decreased instances of re-offending, it’s important that young people learn from an early age, about the consequences of offending, both to themselves and others.”
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