Young offenders rewarded at Butlins

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The Independent Online
PERSISTENT OFFENDERS as young as seven are to have a day at Butlins as a reward for quitting crime. The Persistent Young Offenders Project in Portsmouth is taking 25 children and 52 relatives and helpers to the holiday centre.

Organisers say the pounds 5 trip to Butlins in Bognor Regis is an incentive for the youngsters to stop committing crimes.

Children taken to the camp were referred to the project for offences including burglary and theft. But all those chosen for the trip have either stopped offending or have "drastically reduced", said Rhona Lucas, the project co-ordinator.

The youngsters were carefully chosen and will be supervised, Ms Lucas said. "Almost all of them have not had the opportunity to go out as a family and enjoy something that most families take for granted.

"It's about giving them a fun time together with family members and rewarding them for the extreme efforts they are making," she said. "I hope they have fun, I hope they laugh a lot and I hope they experience the joy that children are entitled to."

The project is a pilot scheme funded by the Government and Portsmouth City Council, and its success is being monitored by Portsmouth University. It has been running since last August. The Butlins trip is the first big incentive, although other rewards have included trips to local leisure centres and milkshakes at McDonald's.