CASE STUDY: ARSON WITH INTENT TO ENDANGER LIFE
On 24th November 2014, Adam, Nick and Karl set fire to black dustbins located outside a block of flats owned by the local council. The fire set alight against a door to one of the flats in the block and destroyed it (see attached photo). As a result of this offence Adam and Nick received a 3 month Youth Caution working with Stockport Youth Offending Service (YOS). Due to Karl being 9 years old at the time of the offence he was referred to Stockport YOS on a Voluntary Support Programme.
The direct victim of this offence was the local housing agency. The contact was a lady called Dot who was my main contact who is the Neighbourhood Housing officer where the offence took place. I was aware that there were residents of the block of flats that would have been victims of this offence. As I had not been provided with their details I was not able to contact them directly, however Dot spoke to them on my behalf and asked could I contact them. Unfortunately they declined, however during my work with Dot she expressed their viewpoints as well as hers and that of the local housing agency.
When I spoke to Dot about restorative justice she was keen to meet with the three young people in order to explain the impact of the offence on the housing agency, the residents and her as an employee. Dot also said that the damage to the door had cost over £1000 to fix and she would like the young people to understand the extent of the damage. She also said that she was hoping that as they have also had trouble with other people in the school that they will talk to their friends about the process and this will act as a deterrent.
I then met with Adam, Nick and Karl and completed some victim awareness work with them and looked at who was affected by the offence and how. We then discussed restorative justice and how Dot would like to meet with them. They all agreed they would do this. When I asked why they all said that they would like to say sorry to her as they had completed fire awareness work and understood how dangerous the offence was.
I then met with Adam, Nick and Karl’s mum’s in order to get their permission for the boys to participate in a direct meeting and risk assessed them as they were all agreed to act as their supporters.
I next met with Dots colleague Justine who is the Anti-Social Behaviour Officer who was acting as Dots supporter and discussed the restorative process and completed a risk assessment.
On 24 June 2015 Adam, Nick and Karl all participated in individual direct restorative meetings with Dot and Justine which was held in the family room at a local school. I acted as the main facilitator with my colleague Hannah supporting me.
Nick attended his meeting first and discussed the offence and apologised to Dot and Justine. Dot then explained to Nick the effects of his offence. She explained that although there was no damage on the inside of the door the outside had cost over £1000 to repair. Nick and his mum were surprised by this. She then informed them that there is an elderly man that lives in the flat above who does not go out often and that if this had progressed he would have had difficulty in getting out and that it could have been much more serious. Justine then explained that as Nicks mum has a tenancy with their housing agency if he commits anti- social behaviour then this can affect his mum’s tenancy.
Adam and his mum then completed his meeting which followed a similar format. When Dot spoke about the elderly man who lives in the block of flats Adam explained that the man was his Grandads friend and he had heard that he was extremely upset by what had happened.
Karl and his mum were the last to complete their restorative meetings where Dot and Justine explained the impact of the offence. Karl apologised for his part in the offence.
Once the meetings had finished I discussed with Dot and Justine the meetings and they gave positive feedback and thanked me for organising the meetings. I thanked them for participating and thanked them for their time as I was aware doing 3 meetings back to back was time consuming. I then sent them a feedback from a few days later to see how they found the experience. The feedback stated that they felt they were treated respectfully by myself and that their concerns had been addressed and gave a 10 as very satisfied for their overall satisfaction level.
The week following the meeting I visited Adam, Nick and Karl and their mums to see how they found the process. All provided positive feedback and the boys all said that although they were nervous beforehand they were happy with how the meetings went.
Since the meeting took place Adam, Nick and Karl have not committed any further offences.