Informal punishments handed to criminals in Greater Manchester reduces

Date published: 12 July 2019

The number of informal punishments handed to criminals in Greater Manchester has reduced by three percent in three years, according to new figures from the BBC Shared Data Unit.

Community resolutions provide an opportunity for the police to deal with less serious offending and anti-social behaviour. They can include a simple apology, an offer of compensation or a promise to clear up any graffiti or criminal damage.

Community resolutions are not convictions, do not appear on criminal records and will not be disclosed in a standard DBS check.

However, thousands of offenders across the UK have escaped prosecution for offences as serious as child sex abuse, grooming, kidnapping, knife crime and drugs trafficking due to being handed a community resolution.

An investigation into their use by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit has prompted concerns and calls for change from politicians and experts

In 2015, use started to decline after the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee published a report suggesting around 30% of out of court disposals previously recorded may have been inappropriately issued.

In Greater Manchester, community resolutions represented 5% of outcomes in 2014/15, dropping to 2% for the year 2017/18.

Nationally, at least 500 community resolutions were issued for indictable-only offences between 2014 and 2018. Out of more than 15 million crime outcomes recorded for this time period, community resolutions represented 3% of all outcomes recorded during that period.

In 2017/18, the Greater Manchester Police force issued 46 community resolutions for aggravated vehicle taking, 37 for burglary (business or community), 34 for residential burglary, eight for perverting the course of justice, six for kidnapping, three for child abduction.

Further community resolutions for the same year were issued for possession of firearm with intent, distraction burglary in a dwelling, distraction burglary (residential), aggravated burglary (business and community).

Greater Manchester Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Wasim Chaudhry said: “When dealing with criminality, community resolutions can be an effective method of dealing with some offences and can empower some victims when they believe that formal action is not the route that they wish to take.

“Community resolution, as defined by the Home Office, can incorporate a wide spectrum of activities, including restorative justice.

“However, we cannot assume that every community resolution has incorporated the use of restorative justice when many have not. Restorative justice is a proven process in the criminal justice system even when applied to some difficult and challenging crimes, and it’s important to stress that it can be immensely beneficial to victims. It can support them as they make sense of what has happened to them and try to move on with their lives.

“It gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with their offenders to explain the real impact of the crime – it empowers victims by giving them a voice and provides them with the outcomes they need to recover. It also holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends.

“The community resolution process is only used following discussions and agreement with the victim; is carried out by trained professionals and conducted in consultation with relevant support services.”

A spokesman for independent charity Victim Support, said: “Too often victims feel let down by a criminal justice system that fails to take their needs into account, and using community resolutions in violent and sexual offence cases will leave many victims feeling that the justice system does not work for them.”

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Charging and Out of Court Disposals, Deputy Chief Constable Sara Glen said: “Our national strategy makes clear community resolutions should not be used in the most serious cases.

“We anticipate that the number of community resolutions used for indictable offences will further decrease as our new national strategy on out of court disposals is implemented by forces.”

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