Thief, 90, spared court

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OFFENDERS as old as 90 and as young as 10 have been spared court and dealt with under the ‘restorative justice’ scheme used in South Yorkshire.

A total of 1,304 offenders have been dealt with for 989 crimes since the system was introduced in South Yorkshire as an alternative to court.

The aim is to bring offenders and victims together to agree on punishments for minor offences, avoiding the need to go to court and offenders ending up with criminal records.

The oldest offender dealt with under restorative justice was a 90-year-old man caught shoplifting groceries in Sheffield city centre.

South Yorkshire Police said “several” 10-year-olds have also been dealt with for offences including minor criminal damage and shoplifting.

An 82-year-old man who assaulted an 86-year-old woman at the sheltered housing complex where they both lived was also dealt with.

The man agreed to sign a behaviour agreement, which his victim was satisfied with.

PC Dermot Pakenham said: “In these circumstances restorative justice was the most appropriate disposal.

“Due to the history with these people, if we hadn’t dealt with it a more serious incident may have occurred later.

“The elderly man would probably not have been processed for the assault due to his age and it not being in the public interest.

“Time was definitely saved through restorative justice and everyone was happy with the resolution.”

Restorative justice is a victim-centred approach designed to deal with first-time crime and anti-social behaviour offenders.

It gives victims the opportunity to meet offenders and ask them why they committed the crime and explain how they were affected.

The victim then gets a say on how the offender should be punished.