Among those who took part early in the scheme were low-scale young vandals who did not have a criminal record and were spared one, despite a moment of madness.

But they were shamed by having to deal with their victim.

We worry a little bit about the latest restorative justice case involving a Derby County supporter who racially abused a footballer at Pride Park.

This is because the fan will now not go to court because he has written a letter of apology to the club.

However, it was not the target of his abuse so it is a little difficult to fathom why he did not have to write a letter to the player concerned, Stoke City's Cameron Jerome.

It is right that the police have been involved and the club has revoked the fan's season ticket and banned him from the stadium.

But we are just advising caution that restorative justice should not be seen as an easy option.

In this case, writing to Derby County does not seem too much of a humbling experience.

And that is what restorative justice should be.

If it is to be as effective a deterrent as a court appearance, it should be potent.

Next time this happens at Pride Park we would recommend that the culprit has to face the player and say sorry – that would leave a long-lasting effect.