Just say sorry and you won’t go to jail

Hampshire Chief Constable Alex Marshall
Hampshire Chief Constable Alex Marshall

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HUNDREDS of criminals have avoided going to court by confessing to their crimes and saying sorry to the victims.

Today The News can reveal that 362 offenders across Hampshire have been dealt with by a ‘community resolution’ since April 1.

It means people who have committed crimes considered ‘low level’ such as criminal damage, assaults where no injury is caused and minor thefts, are dealt with more quickly.

So instead of being hauled through the courts an offender can admit the crime, say sorry to their victim and in some cases pay for damage caused or returns stolen goods.

So far eight per cent of crimes in the force’s ‘Eastern area’ – which includes Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Hayling Island, Havant, Waterlooville and the Isle of Wight – have been solved using community resolutions since April.

Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Alex Marshall said they are leading to a drop in re-offending rates.

He said: ‘Very quickly we are seeing victims like this.

‘So far re-offending is very low.

‘It’s low-level offending where the offender hasn’t got a history of being a problem – criminal damage, low level assault with no injury and minor theft.’

Community resolutions are being used at other forces across the country.

However the new system was only introduced in Hampshire on April 1.

Officers are now being encouraged to use their discretion to implement them more often where possible.

If the agreed resolution is not fulfilled by the offender the case goes to court.

Mr Marshall said the main focus for the force this year was on continuing to cut serious violent crime and burglaries – and that community resolutions are only an option for minor offences.

He added: ‘They are a common sense approach of dealing with offenders.

‘An example is [when] a youngster damages a neighbour’s fence, the police get called, they find the youngster and take them home.

‘The youngster is told off, the parents and the youngster go round to the neighbour and apologise and pay for the damage to the fence.

‘We record it, there is no arrest, there is not a whole load of paperwork – a telling off and paying for the damage.’