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25 January 2014, 06:28 | Updated: 25 January 2014, 07:00
People committing crimes like vandalism or theft in Hampshire are now being offered a course to make them think about how their actions affect other people.
The new scheme's being piloted at Hampshire Fire and Rescue stations in Southsea and Redbridge, Southampton, but if it helps cut re-offending it could be rolled out nationally.
It's similar to speed awareness courses and Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes says: “This course provides a diversionary alternative to make offenders think about their actions and steer them away from committing further offences.
“I stated in my Police and Crime Plan that I wanted to explore new initiatives to improve outcomes for victims and offenders. This scheme meets those criteria. It also endorses my commitment to provide a service where victims feel more involved and are more confident that the police and partner agencies provide them with the appropriate level of care and support.
“I expect this scheme to work and significantly reduce re-offending and contribute to improving victim satisfaction.”
The pilot scheme, being delivered by independent charity Victim Support, starts in Southsea today and involves offenders of criminal damage, public order, anti social behaviour, assault or theft, attending a three hour education and awareness course. The interactive course challenges offenders to think about their actions, asking the questions like how they would feel if someone did it to them.
Offenders choosing to participate pay £45 towards the cost of the training with any surplus being reinvested in victim services. Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said: “The Victim Awareness Course has been designed to make perpetrators really think about the impact of their actions on others, and help to reduce reoffending.
“Victims of crime tell us that although they want to see offenders punished, what they want more than anything is for their offender not to commit another crime.
“The course has a real focus on how people have been affected by others’ actions, and we hope that knowing offenders are taking part will give victims the confidence that their views are properly taken into account.”