Young offenders caught committing crimes on the Tyne and Wear Metro have a new method of paying their debt to society during lockdown.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, has devised a special workbook so that restorative justice can carry on during the coronavirus pandemic, which has prevented vital face to face working with local youth offending teams.
Offenders are currently unable to meet with Nexus staff to talk about the crimes they have committed, and they are also not able to undertake any reparatory work. The most common offences that have to be dealt with are incidents of criminal damage and trespass on the Metro network.
The new workbook allows young offenders the chance to work through a range of exercises. These stimulate debate and encourage responsible behaviour when travelling on public transport, and allow them to reflect on the impact of the crime that they have committed.
Nexus Youth Liaison Officer, Deborah Rodenby, said: “It’s been a challenge to maintain restorative justice during the lockdown so we had to come up with a new way of delivering that.
“Our work with youth offending teams is absolutely essential but the face to face sessions have ground to a halt due to the pandemic.
“By developing these new workbooks we can continue to ensure that the positive work will carry on in order to discourage criminal behaviour on the Metro system and on the wider public transport network.
“The man themes that we are focusing on are hate crime, arson, criminal damage and trespass. It’s essential we have a new way of working because we cannot currently sit down with young offenders and talk to them, nor can they come in and carry out reparatory works, which usually involve them litter picking and cleaning vehicles.
“This workbook is a really good interactive tool for us to use and even after the lockdown has ended it is something we will look to keep going with as we try to turn lives around and discourage youth offending.”
Emma Blackwell, Manager, Specialist Support Team, Gateshead Youth Justice Service, said: "The workbooks, which have been developed by Nexus, have been used with young people whilst subject to lockdown. These resources have been extremely useful in engaging with young people and ensuring offending behaviour work can being completed.”