'They need to be in court and have action taken' - Councillors react angrily to suggestion vandals should be dealt with through 'restorative justice'
Police have been told to think again after suggesting teenage vandals who damaged a public toilet near Sheffield should only be subjected to a litter-pick for punishment.
South Yorkshire Police responded to a 999 call earlier this month after problems were reported at Penistone's public toilet, in Shrewsbury Road, which was restored over several years in a project by the Town Council.
Two youths, aged 17 and 18, were identified as those responsible and admitted causing damage to plastic fittings valued at £50 inside the building, which is locked out of hours.
But councillors reacted angrily after being told police wanted to deal with the matter through 'restorative justice', with an apology from those responsible, payment of £50 compensation and a 'litter pick' in the town's Market Barn.
The door to the toilet was also found to be damaged and will cost the Town Council hundreds of pounds in an insurance excess, but it remains unclear whether that damage was caused by the vandals or in a previous incident.
Restorative justice is an alternative to conventional prosecution, where a solution acceptable to both the offender and victim.
Coun David Wood insisted the vandals were responsible for damage to the door and said it was not for the public of Penistone to be left to pay the repair bill.
Coun Steve Marsh also questioned the level of punishment and told a Town Council meeting: "They need to be in court and have action taken.
"People in Penistone will be looking at this and wondering what is going off. If they have damaged it (the door) we have a cost of £300.
"I suggest we go back to the police and tell them to do their job properly and that we want to prosecute. One is an adult, at 18."
Other councillors spoke in agreement and Coun Carol Bradbury said: "I think they should be taken to court, they could do it again."
Coun Wood said the loos had been targeted by vandals three or four times.
They are controlled by a coin operated door lock during the day and are locked off at night.
They had been out of use for some time before Penistone Town Council embarked on a refurbishment programme several years ago.
That was fraught with problems, however, and went on much longer than originally envisaged.
A heavy steel door had formed part of the original plans for the makeover, but was never installed, for reasons which remain unknown.