Northumbria's new way of tackling minor crime
A new way of tackling minor crimes has been
introduced throughout Northumbria Police.
Community Resolution is an alternative way of dealing with less serious crimes, allowing officers to use their professional judgement and adopt a common sense approach when dealing with offenders.
Community Resolution can be used for offences such as low level public disorder, criminal damage, theft, and minor assaults in circumstances where those responsible would not normally be put before a court. The new process will enable victims to get a quick resolution and 'closure' of their crime, and the opportunity to influence what happens to the person responsible.
The offenders who agree to take part in the resolution will be subjected to far speedier justice — cutting the time between commiting the crime and being held to account for their actions. For Police it also cuts the bureaucracy associated with the processing of offenders.
"There are a number of benefits from Community Resolution," said Assistant Chief Constable Jim Campbell. "In consultation with the victim, it allows officers to give a proportionate response to minor crime which we feel will further contribute to building trust and confidence in our communities. Many victims don't want to go through the lengthy and potentially stressful criminal justice process but just want the problem to be sorted. Community Resolution enables this to happen.
"It also reduces the unintended consequences of the current criminal justice process, which can see someone 'criminalised' often when they are young and impressionable for what is sometimes a very trivial one-off offence. This 'criminalisation' can have huge consequences on their future lives."
Officers will use their professional judgement, taking into consideration the offence, the victim and the offenders history, to decide whether Community Resolution is the right way to deal with the crime. The offender must admit the offence and agree to participate in the process. The victim will also be consulted and given the opportunity to say how they would like the matter resolved.
Resolutions can include the offender being given advice about their behaviour, apologising or sending a letter of apology to the victim or possibly making some form of reparation, like repairing or paying for any damage done.
The crime will still be recorded, and Community Resolution is not suitable for persistent offenders or more serious offences.
"Because Community Resolution allows a more proportionate response to minor crimes we expect fewer people will be criminalised for what can be very trivial offences," said Mr Campbell. "This in turn will reduce police bureaucracy — meaning less time in stations filling in forms and more time spent in communities, dealing with local problems."
Community Resolution was launched by Northumbria Police on August 1, and has already been piloted by four other Forces. In the first week it was used over 70 times in Northumbria.
A woman who stole cosmetics from a Wallsend shop agreed to write a letter of apology to the store as well as making a £10 donation to charity.
A youth who threw a stone through a window of a house in Washington had to pay for the damage as well as personally apologising to the householder.
A Sunderland shoplifter who stole a tube of hair gel was banned from the store and had to pick up litter from outside the shop for an hour.
11 August 2009