Violent offenders including rapists and child abusers are avoiding criminal records despite admitting their offences

SERIOUS criminals such as rapists and child abusers are avoiding court despite admitting their offences, it has been revealed.

Thousands of crimes including arson, sex assault and burglary are being dealt with by community resolutions instead of jail terms.

Alamy

Violent offenders are avoiding getting criminal records as they are being dealt with by community resolutions instead of going to court[/caption]

The offender has to admit what they have done but they don’t get punished by a judge and don’t end up with a criminal record.

The system is used mostly for minor offences such as shoplifting and criminal damage.

But critics say a lack of resources mean they are being used for far more serious offences – which will not show up on a standard DBS check.

About 112,000 offenders have been dealt with through community resolution orders each year since 2014 when they were introduced, around three per cent of all crime outcomes.

They includes 2,500 sex offences including 27 rapes, 5,000 for possession of weapons, including knives and guns, 156,000 for violent offences against the person and 3,555 burglaries.

Durham Police issued one of the highest rates of community resolutions in the country, using them to resolve 12,992 crimes in four years including rape, grooming and possession of firearms with intent.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

Durham student Ben Matthews, 18, was left with facial injuries in an unprovoked street attack in March.

The force recommended that the case be dealt with without going to court – which infuriated his family.

His mother Jo Law said: “I would have liked him to go to court, for Ben’s sake, and to show that they’re taking it seriously.

“People who commit violent offences shouldn’t be put on to such schemes, police don’t realise the impact it’s having on victims.

“I could have been going to Ben’s funeral – I can’t stop that going through my mind.”

People who commit violent offences shouldn’t be put on to such schemes, police don’t realise the impact it’s having on victims.

Jo Law

Community resolutions can involve restorative justice such as the offender – who has to admit to the crime – apologising to the victim, paying compensation or repairing any damage caused.

They do not lead to a criminal record and both offender and victim have to agree to them being used, though officers can use them without the victim’s consent if senior officers give authorisation.

More than 400,000 community resolutions dished out over four years were analysed by the BBC.

Chris Henley QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “Contrary to their original purpose and the very clear guidance given to the police, community resolutions are being used to deal with more and more serious offences.

“This shouldn’t be happening. These cases should be resolved formally in a courtroom.

“It is unsurprising that offenders arrested for serious crime leap at the offer of an informal community resolution order.”

This shouldn’t be happening. These cases should be resolved formally in a courtroom.

Chris Henley QC

Magistrates’ Association chairman John Bache JP added: “While we are aware there may be specific reasons why a community resolution was appropriate in some of the cases identified, the public must have confidence that serious offences are taken seriously – especially where there is an identifiable victim.”

A spokesman for Victim Support said the orders were effective in dealing with low-level offences, but “wholly inappropriate” for more serious crimes.

Durham Constabulary Chief Constable Jo Farrell said quality assurance methods were used to “ensure that at all times, we have done the right thing for the victim”.

National Police Chiefs’ Council deputy chief constable Sara Glen said they should not be used in the most “serious cases” but added: “Community resolutions helped police handle low-level offending proportionately.”

She said “victims’ wishes were central” to decision-making which would also be examined further by force scrutiny panels.

Times Newspapers Ltd

Chris Henley says it’s ‘unsurprising that offenders arrested for serious crime leap at the offer of an informal community resolution order’[/caption]



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