Volunteer aims to get youngsters back on track'
PUBLISHED: 14:03 16 July 2007 | UPDATED: 15:10 12 May 2010
A TRAINEE solicitor wants to help youngsters get back on track. Ellie Taylor, 25, of Royston, has become a members of one of the Herts County Council s youth offender panels which are seen as a different way of dealing with young offenders. She said: I
A TRAINEE solicitor wants to help youngsters "get back on track.
Ellie Taylor, 25, of Royston, has become a members of one of the Herts County Council's youth offender panels which are seen as a different way of dealing with young offenders.
She said: "I wanted to help young people get back on track
and to steer them away from a life of crime."
First-time offenders between the ages of 10 and 17 can be issued with a referral order from a youth court and sent to a panel.
The panels are made up of two trained volunteers from the community and a member of the local youth offending team.
Together they investigate the causes of the offending behaviour.
A legally binding contract is drawn up and agreed between the young person, their parents and the panel.
The contract, which can last from three to 12 months, could involve being at home at specific times and reporting to the panel to take part in community projects such as litter tidying.
County councillor David Lloyd, executive member for education, said: "Volunteers on youth offender panels all have the same aim - to help the young person change their behaviour.
"By motivating them to change their behaviour the panels will play a valuable role in helping to nip offending in the bud. They are providing an important and worthwhile service for their local community."
Miss Taylor, who will complete two to three-hours of voluntary work every two weeks, said: "Young people often don't think about who they are hurting when they commit these crimes.
"The panels are made up of volunteers who aren't getting paid so it shows that people in the community care and are there to really help."
The time spent with the panel gives the young person a chance to speak and the projects that they are given to complete often match up with their interests.
The young offender is asked to write a letter of apology under supervision to their victim however, victims are also encouraged to attend the meetings.
Miss Taylor said: "It's good to be involved with something that is going to make a difference.
"Even if one young person doesn't re-offend that's positive news."
Anyone over the age of 18 can become a panel member and should have the ability to relate to young people as well as have good listening and communication skills.
- For more details about Hertfordshire Youth Justice Service call 01992 556324.