By CRAIG McTEAR
THIS anonymous letter arrived at the Coffs Coast Advocatee earlier this week.
We've decided to publish it, even though a name and address are not supplied, because it struck us as a heartfelt apology to the community for a criminal act.
Acting Senior Sergeant Talei Fenn confirmed the letter writer is a teenage boy who had been arrested for a large number of thefts from motor vehicle offences in the Coffs Harbour area.
He was dealt with under the Young Offenders' Act, which brought him face-to-face with a number of his victims at youth conferencing, which is run by Coffs Harbour Youth Justice Conferencing.
"As a result of the conference, he decided to write a letter of apology to members of the public for his actions," Sgt Fenn said.
"We are targeting thefts from motor vehicles at beach car parks, but we urge people to do the right thing.
"They should always lock up their vehicles in car parks and not leave valuables in them at any time."
She said youth conferencing was one step above an official caution and one step below the laying of police charges.
"It gives the offender a full perspective of the consequences of their actions," she said.
"A lot of children are entitled to cautions/conferencing for offences such as stealing from motor vehicles and malicious damage."
The Young Offenders Act (1997) has changed the way police and the justice system deal with young offenders.
It actively seeks to steer young offenders away from the court by directing them to alternative forms of intervention.
Four options exist for police to deal with young offenders.
The option taken depends on the seriousness of the offence, the degree of violence involved, the harm caused to the victim, the attitude of the young person to the offence and whether the young! person admits to the offence.