This morning I opened the new Rowdown Centre with Home Office Minister David Hanson.
With support from the Government, Croydon Council has refurbished the pavilion on Rowdown Fields (lots of our parks have these pavilions and many of them are in a poor state of repair, a target for graffiti and vandalism - it's great to see one of them being brought back into public use), which will now be used as a base for reparation work.
Reparation is the equivalent of Community Payback for young offenders. The idea is that offenders repair some of the damage they have done, either directly to their victims or indirectly to the local community. For example, one of the projects being run from the new centre involves offenders repairing stolen bicycles that haven't been reclaimed, which are then given to people who have had their bikes stolen.
In addition, reparation involves an element of punishment - the sessions are done on weekday evenings and on Saturdays - and hopefully the young people gain new skills and self-confidence, making it less likely that they will re-offend. That has certainly been the case for one of young people I met this morning, who is now employed by the Council as a youth worker trying to ensure that other young people don't make the mistakes she has made.
Incidentally, one of the things I learnt when being briefed for this morning's opening is that local people can suggest ideas for Community Payback schemes. So if there is a litter hotspot near you that could do with a clean up, read more here.