REFORMED criminal, Charles Young gave an inspirational presentation to the Sidcup Rotary Club.

He spent 20 years in various penal establishments for a variety of crimes and his extensive criminal record included burglary, assault, car theft, fraud and drug offences.

In colourful language he spoke powerfully about his anger with himself for wasting his life and destroying his relationship with his wife and children.

When he came out of prison for the last time incensed by the futility of it all he asked his son's teacher if he could address the school with an Is Prison Worth It" message.

It went down a storm and since then he has spoken to thousands of youngsters in schools and youth clubs in and around London.

He founded LACES - the London Anti Crime Education Scheme - in 1994.

Charles has a mock cell in which he, with the help of a "cellmate", enacts the bleak and harsh reality of prison.

Through powerful imagery and raw brutal honesty he relays the demeaning and degrading reality and dramatically shatters the illusion of glamour which sometimes can be attached to crime. Charles also works with young offenders.

He was immensely pleased and proud as he had just appeared at Crown Court on behalf of a young offender who had breached his order with the local Youth Offending Team and they and the probation officer had recommended prison.

After hearing what Charles had to say about how the young offender had helped with his presentations, the judge took what he said was a most unusual step and revoked the court order for him to attend the Youth Offending Team and placed him in the care of Charles and LACES instead.