London, Nov 27 : Teenage thugs and criminals can escape scot-free just by saying sorry to their victims, according to a new scheme launched in UK.
Under the programme being run by the Youth Justice Board-which oversees youth offending, violent teenage muggers and burglars-those under 17 are not being prosecuted or taken to court for their offences if they take part in the restorative justice programme where they meet their victims.
They could be let off "on the spot" if both sides agree.
However, those involved in serious offences, including sex, weapons and drugs are excluded.
Offenders are only eligible if it is their first ever offence, but it means those responsible for some of the most hated crimes like break-ins, thefts and assault will get off scot-free first time around.
"It is not sensible to have a blanket rule that a first offence is to be dealt with in this way. The likes of burglary or car crime would ordinarily be prosecuted and criminal justice should take its course," the Telegraph quoted David Green, director of the think tank Civitas as saying.
"If the offence would ordinarily merit more action, including charging and court then that is what should happen," he added.
Under the Youth Restorative Disposal (YRD), aimed at ten to 17-year-olds who commit their first ever offence, offenders who agree to meet with their victim and work out how to mend their ways will not be dragged to court.
A police officer trained for the YRD will act 'on the spot' where circumstances allow and oversee a meeting between the two parties to resolve the offence.
The programme is currently running in eight areas, and could be rolled out nationally if they prove a success.
"This new measure puts the needs of the victim at the heart of the system, as well as allowing the young person to understand the consequences of their actions," said Justice minister David Hanson.