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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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1,000 Cumbrian offenders spared courts in community resolution scheme

More than a thousand Cumbrian offenders have avoided the criminal justice system and instead are being dealt with by community resolutions.

The new way of dealing with low-level criminals became available to operational police officers in England and Wales on April 8 last year.

Community resolutions can be issued by the officer dealing with a crime, when they decide it is an appropriate way for the offender to redeem themselves.

However, the decision is only taken after consultation with the victim and must be accepted by the offender before it can take effect. Example of community resolution include receiving advice about their behaviour; issuing a verbal or written apology to the victim; reparation such as fixing something they damaged; and financial compensation.

Between April 8 2013 and March 31, 2014, police in Cumbria dealt with 1,204 offenders via a community resolution. Between them, they had committed 1,066 offences.

Of those people, 552 offenders – responsible for 423 offences – are shown on records to have incorporated restorative justice within that resolution.

Restorative justice has been around in various forms for years, but there is a Government drive to try and use it as a way to resolve more low level crimes.

A report detailing Cumbria Police’s use of the powers will be presented to the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner executive board in Penrith today.

It states: “A positive message is that the constabulary’s use of restorative justice is increasing.

“This will ultimately have a positive impact on re-offending rates and victim satisfaction.

“However, the method is mainly direct or letter of apology, as opposed to the more effective restorative justice conference, which is a structured face-to-face meeting which has the greatest benefit to the victim and resultant reductions in reoffending.”

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