Reparation is a means of making amends for the harm caused by offending and provides a mechanism for young people to take responsibility for their actions.
The most significant feature concerning reparation is how the decision is made for the young person to make reparation. If it is ordered by the youth court, without the consent of the young person, it is likely to be viewed as a punishment and consequently resented. Even under these circumstances there is potential for the young person to gain satisfaction from completing tasks, particularly where it produces an identifiable positive result. For some young people, it is extremely rare for them to feel appreciated for any good that they might do.
A youth support officer has to supervise any reparation activity, and this also provides an opportunity to engage the young person in thinking about their offence and its consequences.
The young person can agree to take a certain course of action to make amends for what he or she has done. This is likely to come about through a restorative justice process where the rationale is understood and therefore benefits more effective. In such cases, young people are more likely to take pride in their work and are more likely to carry on to complete further activities beyond the agreement reached.
For offences where there is an identifiable victim, he or she will be contacted and offered the opportunity to engage in the resolution. Whether the victim takes part or not, he or she can elect to accept direct reparation, in which case the young person will make amends to the victim. Alternatively, the young person will carry out reparation to the community, generally from the list of reparation schemes.
Of the sentencing disposals available, reparation orders are entirely directed at reparation, but reparation can also be included in other disposals such as action plan orders and supervision orders (see: about the court orders for information about both of these orders).
In Surrey, reparation often involves working on a Saturday or Sunday morning, starting as early as 8am. Young people work in supervised groups and are required to wear protective clothing and use safety equipment (both provided by YSS). Current projects include:
Reparation that is part of a court order is not optional. Failure to attend may result in a return to court under breach proceedings.
Find out more watching our DVD or downloading the booklet below.