Non-custodial approaches can rescue lives and save money, writes Janet FearnleyJeremy Cushing’s excellent explanation of referral orders and restorative justice is timely indeed (Letters, 12 September). As he points out, criminalising children is a sure route to apprenticeships in crime. I volunteer as a referrals community panel member in Surrey, where innovative and inspirational work by the youth support service’s restorative justice team (despite stringent local authority cuts) has led to highly successful results. Restorative intervention involves police, victims, parents and community as soon as the young person has been apprehended, the aim being to avoid the young person having to go to court.
Restorative justice has saved children from being criminalised and reduced public costs. The Restorative Justice Council has researched the experiences of BAME children through referral orders and restorative justice interventions. This is a fascinating, affecting read, widely researched from all those participating in the restorative process – volunteers, professional staff, and most importantly, the young people themselves. Jeremy Cushing is spot on when he says that restorative justice works, and not only for young people. It is the way forward to guide many offenders into regaining their place in society and preventing reoffending.