Letter: Crime and punishment in UK

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Sir: Paul Cooper argues ('Vengeance should not be thine', 12 September) that we should look to southern Africa or Japan, where there are traditions of involving victims in responses to crime.

Many tenants of large housing estates, such as the one I live on, are victims of crime continually and dare not even call the police - not only because they fear reprisals but also because they know that there is little the police can do anyway. If offenders are prosecuted and locked up, they still return to the same estates and often continue to commit the same crimes.

Perhaps our approach to punishing offenders does need to change. The system at the moment does not rehabilitate offenders. Further, many offenders are young kids who would probably benefit more from being punished in their own communities. If they were made responsible for repairing the damage, and the communities were made responsible for their reintegration, then there might be hope of a better future, both for them and their victims.

The answer cannot lie solely with the criminal justice system: we need projects to occupy our young people and help to give them back their self-respect.

Should anyone argue about the cost of all this, just refer them to the amount of money spent on repairing damaged properties and communities, the price of young people on the streets with no hope and no future, and the cost of the criminal justice system now.

Yours faithfully,

KARINA KAMINSKI

St Helens, Merseyside

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