He said: "The police offered to get me in a room with the offender and meet him face-to-face.

"They said he was only 17 years old and it was his first offence.

"I reluctantly agreed. I felt that we all make mistakes and at least he was man enough to meet in person.

"He seemed to be all for it but then had second thoughts and just wanted to write a letter of apology.

"I don't want a letter of apology because I can't tell if he means it. He could be laughing as he writes it for all I know."....

Mr Grove refutes any suggestion restorative justice is a easy way out for offenders.

He said: "This isn't a soft option. It's about giving victims a stronger sense of justice being done and directing offenders down the right path in life, rather than locking them into a life of crime, leaving many victims in their wake.

"It's not a substitute for prosecution but recognises that punishment is often not enough to stop criminals offending. It needs to be complemented with a focus on rehabilitating offenders."

Mr Grove believes the process can be cathartic for victims.

He said: "With the agreement of the victim, they have a supervised meeting with the perpetrator and tell them exactly how they feel and what the consequences of their criminal actions have been.

"For many victims who have taken this decision, it has made them feel more empowered and also had a profound effect on changing the attitude and behaviour of the offender."....

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