Four humbled teenagers have written a letter of apology to the people of Sheringham after a “stupid” incident that saw them spray graffiti at a popular play area.

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The youngsters have also cleaned up their handiwork, picked up litter at the park - and are doing fundraising for a local charity which was among the victims.

The action - including the letter - came after the four and their parents came face-to-face with those on the wrong end of their vandalism.

They ran the risk of getting a criminal record for the attack, which happened over the Christmas holidays.

But representatives from the Benjamin Foundation and North Norfolk District Council, both of whose facilities were vandalised, were keen to avoid the sanction.

Instead, with the help of local police, they opted for a restorative justice approach: a solution that sees perpetrators of crime meet their victims and come up with a way to make amends.

And, according to PC Ian Smith, who brokered the solution, the youths were keen to make up for their misdemeanour.

He said three male youngsters were interviewed about the damage, while a teenaged girl was also involved.

He said: “The organisations that were harmed did not want the youngsters to get a criminal record. Because they’re trying to support youngsters in the work that they do, they do not want to criminalise anybody.

“We had an initial meeting with the Benjamin Foundation and NNDC, then we had a meeting between the youngsters, their parents and the two organisations. We talked through what had happened and what could be done.

“At these meetings, we try to get them to think about what they’ve done.”

During the attack, graffiti was sprayed on a mobile building used by the Benjamin Foundation, along with a shelter at the site.

PC Smith said: “They offered to clean up the graffiti and wanted to formally apologise in a letter. One of the youngsters and his parents also wanted to write a letter to the town, to apologise to the whole community.

“The Benjamin Foundation said there was a cost to put it right and wondered if they would be involved in some fundraising, which they are taking on.”

He added: “They have done a fantastic job of cleaning up the graffiti that they were involved in, but have also cleaned up other graffiti.

“They’ve turned up in the freezing cold and have done very well.

“They’ve done litter picks in the park and washed down the play equipment. Now they’re focusing on fundraising to get the mobile building spruced up.”

PC Smith said restorative justice could have a “positive effect” on both the victims and wrongdoers, enabling one to see that something was being done and the other to understand the impact of the crime.

14 comments

  • to those saying that this isn't taking it far enough, what would you rather have for incidents like this, drag the kids through court and have them given a sentence which lets be honest would more likely be a fine and community service, costing the taxpayers money or for less costs have them own up and see how they can undo the damage they done. As a taxpayer I know which one I would rather see more of

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    Reaper99

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Graffiti has been around for at least 3000 years-lets hope this incident will put an end to it all.

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    backwoodsman

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • I think the long and the short of it, is that if they had not been caught in the first place, they would not be writing letters (looks very official for a kids letter) and cleaning up. So will this deter others? No, I doubt it, as you have to get caught first before you are forced into cleaning up and writing phoney apologies, and that is only so that you dont get a criminial record.

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    Farquarson-Smythe

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • They should not have caused the damage in the first place but at least they have taken responsibility for their actions and put right the damage. It’s a real shame more incidents of this kind were dealt in this manner, only then will the culprits recognize and fully understand the harm or distress they have caused.

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    Martin Zuill

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • They should not have caused the damage in the first place but at least they have taken responsibility for their actions and put right the damage. It’s a real shame more incidents of this kind were dealt in this manner, only then will the culprits recognize and fully understand the harm or distress they have caused.

    Report this comment

    Martin Zuill

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • KeithS It says in the article that the youngsters have engaged in fund raising for the organisations involved which is clearly beyond putting right the damage they caused. All in all it seems a positive and well considered resolution of an unfortunate incident.

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    Cyril the Canary

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Err.. they are clearing up the damage and raising money to cover the cost of fixing it. Try reading the article before you go all Daily Mail on us.

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    a fine city

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • "V" If you get caught speeding, there's every chance you'll get the option of going on one fo those speed awareness courses, so you will learn from you mistakes and not get a driving conviction. So yes, you may well "get away with it".

    Report this comment

    LLCK

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Sorry they were found out more like, what "stuff" are they doing to put it right?

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    KeithS

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • We all have done something which 'seemed a good idea at the time' Well done for coming to your sences and making things right..Youngsters should NOT be put down ..ie..... V...Keith S. I hope this is a start of new way of life for them.

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    musicman

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • What rubbish !. So if I get caught by a speed camera or get caught burgling a house, all I have to do is write a letter of apology and I can get away with it ?. What are the parents doing about putting things right ?.

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    "V"

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • A fine city: I know what they are doing to reverse what they did, but that's not the same as putting it right. How's about spending some of thier free time helping the charities they affected? You never know they may like it and follow that career path.

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    KeithS

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • "V" If you get caught speeding, there's every chance you'll get the option of going on one fo those speed awareness courses, so you will learn from you mistakes and not get a driving conviction. So yes, you may well "get away with it".

    Report this comment

    LLCK

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • I agree with Music Man. Everybody makes mistakes, but it is learning from them and not repeating those mistakes that is important. Good for those children for admitting they had done wrong and doing something positive to apologise for it.

    Report this comment

    CoastalCrab

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

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