Young litterbugs and vandals clean up their act
More than 200 young litterbugs and graffiti vandals in Mansfield have taken part in a pioneering initiative aimed at teaching children to clean up their act.
A year on from the launch of the scheme, 212 under-16s have carried out litter-picks and graffiti clearance work organised by Mansfield District Council's Neighbourhood Wardens.
The youngsters are given the option of taking part in the community clean-ups instead of paying the £75 fixed penalty notices for littering, graffiti and other enviro-crimes. The option is only given for a first offence.
The regular weekend clean-ups have involved groups ranging three to 15 children aged between 11 and 16. They are targeted wherever there is a need; from housing estates and garages to parks and local nature reserves.
Whenever possible the punishment reflects the crime, so young people caught dropping litter take part in the litter picks whilst graffiti vandals take part in graffiti clearance – all under the supervision of Neighbourhood Wardens.
Mansfield District Council was one of the first authorities in the country to introduce such a scheme which is now being copied by other councils from across the country.
The vast majority of parents have been very supportive of the initiative.
Coun Danny McCrossan, Portfolio Holder for Public Protection at Mansfield District Council said: "Before we introduced this scheme we were concerned about how effective issuing a £75 fixed penalty to children would be. We knew in all probability that the parents would end up footing the bill and questioned what children would learn from it.
"I believe this form of restorative justice is much more effective than issuing fixed penalty fines to young people. It teaches young people the importance of respecting their environment and that there are consequences if they do not – the last thing teenagers want to do is give up their weekends to clean up litter or graffiti.
"What's more there is the added benefit that the council is supported in cleaning areas of unsightly litter and graffiti around our district."