Terrace, B.C. students own up to door-to-door money raising scheme

Authorities used program called restorative justice as an alternative to court

Three students who devised a plan to get money from people under the guise of raising money for their school’s band have gone through a program set up as an alternative to being charged and going through the court system.

On March 3, 2016, Terrace RCMP advised the public to watch out for fraud after the group went around to various addresses on Lazelle Ave., Davis Ave., Loen Ave. and Scott Ave. collecting money from people who thought they were donating toward the Skeena Middle School band program, said Terrace RCMP Const. Angela Rabut, who is in charge of media relations and community policing.

“Just under $200 was collected from 15 different people – a ledger was kept by the students with the persons’ names, addresses and the amount ‘donated,’” she said.

“The students were caught after someone called the school to ask if the fundraiser was legitimate.”

The students and their parents were cooperative with the investigation and the students provided statements about their involvement and took responsibility for what they did, Rabut said.

This allows police to divert the incident to the local restorative justice program rather than the courts having to be involved, she said.

A private session was held and an agreement was reached amongst the participants that involved community hours, paying the money back, apology letters, and a follow up in the newspaper about the outcome of the process, said Rabut.

By the end of August, two of the three students had completed their agreement and the third person assured the police that it would be completed before school started up again, said Rabut.

That third student did follow through and completed the tasks before school started, Rabut affirmed Sept. 9.

If the third student hadn’t completed the tasks by the start of school, other avenues of dealing with the criminal offence would have been discussed, said Rabut.

“Due to an agreement being reached at the forum, the matter can not be forwarded for charge approval,” she said.

When a person goes through a restorative justice session, there will be a police record of the incident but there will not be a criminal record, Rabut added.

And the matter can not be sent to court at a later date, it is considered dealt with just as if there had been a court sentence.

Restorative justice programs are active in other communities and the first recorded instance of it being applied officially in Canada dates back to 1974 in Ontario.