A church in Lincoln has undergone a two-year clean-up operation, completed by some of the city’s young offenders.
St Giles Parish Church, which community members say had become a “hot-spot” for youths drinking and smoking, has been cleaned of graffiti, de-littered and given an allover fresh look.
Groups of young people also cut hedges and maintained the church grounds.
The church hall has been re-painted and is now being advertised as the ideal spot for children’s parties, meetings and events.
The scheme was part of a restorative justice programme run by Lincolnshire County Council’s Youth Offending Service and Lincolnshire Police.
Vicar of St Giles Parish Church, Mary O’Connell, has expressed her satisfaction with the outcome after her church began attracting the wrong sort of attention.
“We’ve had problems in the past with young people congregating in the Church’s outside areas smoking, drinking and defacing the walls with graffiti”, she said.
“Together with our local PCSOs Guy McCusker and Sarah Froggatt and Lincolnshire Youth Offending, we’ve developed a way to take something negative and turn it into a positive.”
Alan Hardwick, Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “The project at St Giles Parish Church is an excellent example of the value of restorative and reparative justice.
“I’ve been fortunate to meet both Mary, the vicar, and a young person involved in the project and I can see the value for both of them, as well as the wider society. This shouldn’t be underestimated.”
After visiting the project, Lincolnshire Police’s Chief Constable Neil Rhodes said: “Police cautions and other out of court disposals still have their place but these offer little reparation to the victim, who can sometimes feel cheated by the system.
“A restorative resolution allows for a bespoke course of action fitting to the crime, which provides a more efficient and satisfactory outcome for the victim.
“Restorative resolution is in no way meant to replace prosecutions and court appearances but does divert less serious, often first time offenders away from the criminal justice system and this has been shown to reduce reoffending.”