Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Young offender says 'Sorry' for laser pen helicopter incident

A recent meeting at RAF St Athan allowed a young person from Caerphilly county borough to apologise for his actions during an incident earlier this year, which endangered a police helicopter and the lives of its crew.

As part of a Restorative Justice intervention organised by the local Youth Offending Service, 17-year-old Dennis visited the crew of the Eurocopter EC 135T2I, the helicopter used by both Gwent and South Wales Police, to apologise for shining a laser pen at the helicopter in July this year as it passed overhead near his home.

The visit was arranged so that Dennis was able to fully appreciate the implications of his endangering the aircraft and its crew, and spent some time examining the sophisticated imaging and video recording equipment, which was instrumental in his swift apprehension that night.

Two of the aircrew, PC Mark Chamberlain and pilot Captain James Grenfell took the time to explain to Dennis the impact that his behaviour had on their safety, and the tragic consequences that quite easily could have been.

The meeting also enabled Dennis to offer a sincere and person apology to the crew of the helicopter for his actions.

Following the meeting, Captain James Grenfell commented, "From our meeting, Dennis has learned how dangerous this type of incident can be, and I hope that others will understand the same lesson. After speaking to him, I felt that it was not done maliciously, and I fully accept his apology."

Restorative Justice meetings such as this are innovative ways of tackling fear of crime, anti-social behaviour and reducing rates of reoffending. Held between the perpetrator and the victim, with support from the Youth Offending Service (YOS), the conferences provide an opportunity for the perpetrator to take responsibility for their actions and acknowledge the consequences.

The aim is not to humiliate the person responsible, but for all parties involved to express their feelings about the incident and discuss what might be necessary to put things right.

Cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Lyn Ackerman said, "Restorative Justice meetings such as this one can be very positive experiences for all concerned. They really can help reduce stress and fear among victims, and can also be very effective in helping to motivate young offenders to turn away from a life of crime."

For further information on Restorative Justice, please contact the Blackwood based Youth Offending Service on 01495 235 623.


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