In August the HB Gazette reported how staff at Herne Bay Infants were devastated to find their efforts over the summer holidays had been ruined. The vandals had scrawled offensive graffiti on the walls, damaged plants and musical instruments, smeared excrement on windows and left toys strewn across the playground and on the roof.
PC Sarah Scurfield tracked down those responsible. She found one of the culprits, which quickly led to the group of six being identified. Along with their parents, they met school head Bernadette Lax last Wednesday to apologise in person. Mrs Lax said:
“The meetings were a very positive way of moving forward after the sad events of the summer. It was brave and encouraging of the young people to face up to their mistakes and seek to put things right. They were genuinely sorry, you could see it in their faces. I was also touched by the warmth and gratitude of the parents to our response. We look forward to receiving some funds by the end of the year and planting a beautiful tree or two that we all can enjoy in the spring.”
The youngsters will now make amends by raising money for the tree and plants to improve the area. One will undertake a sponsored swim, while others will do cake sales. Another will donate toys for a tombola at the infant school’s fair.
After the summer rampage, Mrs Lax stressed her desire to avoid criminal proceedings and opt for restorative justice. She added that it was the school’s decision to find a community solution.
PC Scurfield added:
“Some of them were previously of good character, so we made sure that what they thought may have been a bit of fun can have serious consequences. Ensuring the parents know is sometimes all it takes to stop this behaviour happening again. Restorative justice meant the teenagers were able to learn about the impact of their actions and we were able to work with the school to ensure there was a positive outcome.”