Restorative Justice in partnership with retail security
The Youth Support Service (YSS) within Surrey County Council has a responsibility to supervise young people who have committed crime or who are at risk of doing so. An important aspect of this work is addressing the harm that is caused by youth crime. A recent research programme by the Ministry of Justice, over a seven-year period, found that re-offending rates dropped significantly when Restorative Justice is introduced.
When the YSS of Surrey County Council approached me for help in dealing with first time and young offenders, I embraced the challenge, believing that together we could make a positive and lasting difference to young people’s lives. The initiative aims to show the young offenders the error of their ways, what their actions could mean in later life and the consequences for retailers and workers.
Facing consequences head on
A young person between the ages of 14 and 19 who has committed an act of theft is given the opportunity to make right what they have done. Instead of a criminal record, they are given a contract to either apologise to the stores affected or write a letter. If the meeting is face-to-face the retailers can put their feelings across in a controlled manner and explain the consequences of shoplifting. This is very powerful, as the offender has nowhere to hide and has to face the consequences of their actions head on.
When explaining the consequences to the young people, I use the scenario of a first aid incident where team members are dealing with a shoplifter and therefore cannot respond. The first aid incident may be quite serious and, if I do not have the whole team available, this may have serious consequences and how would they feel if it were someone they cared about.
I think our shopping malls offer a perfect opportunity to engage with young people. If you feel you can contribute, get in touch with your local teams and find out if you can be of assistance and make a difference. It really is worth the effort.
Security Manager, Axis Security Services
Woking Town Centre Management Limited