Victims are asked what outcome they would like to see, options include an apology, compensation or an offer of free work to right the wrongs of offenders. The scheme, which cuts officers’ workload, launched in the district nine months ago and there are a further 16 in the pipeline.

So far just a single person involved has gone on to re-offend. The youngest offender to appear before a panel is 10.

In one case, two schoolchildren who stole chocolate from Asda worth £20 appeared before a panel and agreed to apologise and stay out of the supermarket for six months.

Matt Gregory, store manager at Asda in Ashton, said: “The schoolboy I spoke to really understood what he had done and everything really hit home.”

Cases of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour are referred to police by individual officers, schools, housing associations, churches or businesses.

Both victims and offenders must agree to attend the panel meetings and, crucially, all offenders must admit their guilt.

Declarations – which can be withdrawn later – are signed by offenders after resolutions are agreed between all parties.

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