Criminals come face to face with victims

Two young men from Cromer who smashed church windows and vandalised cars in separate wrecking sprees have apologised to their victims at groundbreaking face-to-face meetings.

Two young men from Cromer who smashed church windows and vandalised cars in separate wrecking sprees have apologised to their victims at groundbreaking face-to-face meetings.

The men are among more than 1,000 petty criminals in Norfolk who have met their victims, apologised and agreed to make amends at restorative justice conferences.

The new string in the bow of the county's justice system has been running for 18 months, and has so far seen a re-offending rate of 14pc - compared to 22pc for those dealt with by other means, like court appearances or fines.

It is designed to directly hold offenders to account and, following pilots in a number of areas, including Norfolk, is being rolled out countrywide. It is also being used outside the criminal justice system, for example in schools, workplaces, care homes and hospitals.


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Last Thursday a young man who vandalised and broke into 12 cars on Mill Road and Station Road on March 1 said sorry to 10 of his victims at a face-to-face meeting.

The man, who cannot be named, was confronted by the angry car owners at a restorative justice conference at North Norfolk District Council's headquarters on Holt Road.

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Chief Insp Steve Jones said: 'He apologised to the group and said he is taking steps to deal with his problems. A couple of the victims shook his hand and thanked him for being honest. Some of the people he targeted were his friends and he didn't even realise, so he had to face up to the impact of his actions.'

On Tuesday, an 18-year-old man met with the pastor and members of the congregation of Cromer Baptist Church and agreed to pay for repairs to windows that he smashed on two occasions - and to carry out community work to make amends.

The church vandal twice targeted Cromer Baptist Church and twice attacked Cromer Methodist Church in recent months - smashing windows on each occasion.

Chief Insp Jones added: 'This is more challenging for those committing crime than going to court. The victims were sitting and staring at the offender. It takes a lot more courage to face that.'

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