POLICE hope that a new scheme to punish criminals without putting them through courts will be expanded.
The new system of ‘community resolutions’ was only introduced in Hampshire at the start of April, but senior officers are already confident the scheme is proving to be well received by the public.
Under the scheme, people who have committed low level crimes such as criminal damage or shoplifting can admit their crime and be dealt with more quickly.
It would typically mean saying sorry to their victim and possibly paying for any damage or returning the stolen goods without having to go through the courts.
During a meeting of the police authority’s performance committee, Deputy Chief Constable Andy Marsh said that right now the scheme is only open to police officers and PCSOs.
But he added: ‘I would want in the fullness of time to extend this to other agencies.’
He also spoke of the possibility of involving education staff more with the scheme as a way of dealing with minor crimes that happen in schools.
Chief Superintendent Richard Rowland said: ‘We are looking for ways to support our staff using common sense and sound judgement.
‘This is one way they can do that. We think this is an essential tool in their kit.
‘It doesn’t set out to reform the offender although it may well do that.
‘It aims to provide some form of satisfaction for the victim.
‘It is to provide a proportionate response that addresses the matter of criminal behaviour.’
But Mr Marsh warned that a drive to increase detection rates could put some officers off using community resolutions as they don’t currently count towards the statistics.
He admitted, that as a result: ‘I know in my heart we will be putting some people through the criminal justice system that shouldn’t be.’
The committee agreed that in future the force will record the number of community resolutions used in its solved crime statistics. The data will also be used to understand if the resolutions are effective in preventing reoffending.
Since their introduction the resolutions have already been used 373 times, which accounts for 1.82 per cent of all detected crime so far this year.
Although the resolutions are to be used for lower-end crimes, Ch Supt Rowland added: ‘There are some offences where the officer on the ground can use their discretion.
‘For other offences you would need a more senior officer, such as an inspector to approve it.’