Thoughtless vandals who caused heartache at a special needs school have been forced to make amends back at the scene of their crime.
A dozen youths – all under the age of 14 – broke into the early years’ garden at Bamburgh School in South Shields over Easter Weekend and wreaked havoc.
The school supports 195 children with a wide range of additional needs and learning difficulties.
During the crime spree, the youths damaged a specialist ground-level trampoline which had cost around £6,000 to install, broke the window of a shed and destroyed pots that had been planted by pupils.
But after those involved were identified by Northumbria Police, 12 youngsters – some of which were under the age of 10 – were made to make amends following their irresponsible actions.
Earlier this month, the dozen culprits returned to the school and carried out a number of cleaning and tidying jobs as part of a restorative justice conference, which are often held with youth offenders to help them understand the consequences of their actions.
Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Natalie Gibson believes the day allowed the youngsters to realise the level of hurt that their conduct had caused.
“While nothing can take away the heartbreak that the school’s staff and pupils felt as a result of this vandalism, those responsible – many of whom who are a very young age – began to understand just how hurtful their actions were,” PCSO Gibson said.
“They were brought into the school and came face-to-face with those who had been emotionally affected by their behaviour, and as a result, they spent the day trying to make a more positive contribution.
“Many of the parents of those responsible were appalled by what their son or daughter had done, and the youngsters have since shown genuine remorse and have apologised to the school.
“We will continue to work closely with the school and the local community to ensure this kind behaviour is dealt with appropriately.”
Peter Nord, head teacher at Bamburgh School, says he has been overwhelmed by the kindness shown by those living in the local area.
The school has since received a number of well-wishes, messages of support and even donations from good Samaritans wanting to help cover the cost of the damage.
“Inviting the young people who committed this vandalism into the school for the restorative justice conference was very useful, and I hope they learned a lot from it,” Mr Nord said.
“Their actions caused a great deal of heartache for everyone at the school and had an adverse effect on our students, because the specialist outdoor area is built into our early years’ curriculum.
“Since this damage, we have been blown away by the response from the local community who have showed incredible kindness and support. We are all incredibly grateful.”