Alternatives to Prosecution

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 22 July 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Gould of Potternewton Baroness Gould of Potternewton Deputy Speaker (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they introduced community resolution orders as informal punishments for low-level offences in 2014; who was responsible for their introduction; and whether their use was approved by the Home Secretary.

Photo of Baroness Gould of Potternewton Baroness Gould of Potternewton Deputy Speaker (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they provide to police forces in England and Wales on the criteria for determining whether a person should be subject to a community resolution order rather than an alternative punishment; and who determines whether or not to use a community resolution order.

Photo of Baroness Gould of Potternewton Baroness Gould of Potternewton Deputy Speaker (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that community resolution orders are being used for more serious offences than originally intended; and what plans they have to prevent such orders being used for anything other than low-level crimes.

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

Out of Court Disposals (OOCDs) allow police to deal quickly and proportionately with low-level offending without recourse to the courts. One type of OOCD is community resolution. This is a non-statutory disposal that can be administered by police forces when the offender accepts responsibility for the offence, and in most cases, where the victim has agreed that they do not want more formal action taken.

‘Community resolution’ is a nationally recognised term for a disposal which has been in use by police for some years, and prior to 2014. In 2014, following consultation, the Ministry of Justice identified support for community resolution as part of a simplified framework for OOCDs in which all disposals had conditions attached.

The College of Policing hold guidance on the use of community resolutions:

http://library.college.police.uk/docs/appref/Community-Resolutions-Incorporating-RJ-Final-Aug-2012-2.pdf (this was also summarised as part of a quick reference guide published by Ministry of Justice in 2013: https://www.yjlc.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/MoJ-Quick-reference-guides-out-of-court-disposals-2013.pdf).

Individual decisions around the appropriateness of issuing an OOCD are an operational matter for police.

Typically, a Constable, Police Community Support Officer or Police Staff Investigator can decide to issue a community resolution, in accordance with Authorised Professional Practice, gravity matrices and local force policies which inform decision making.

Police and partners have a range of measures in place to ensure appropriate use of Out of Court Disposals. Supervisors are expected to check decision-making of their staff regularly. Out of Court Disposal scrutiny panels are also in place with external representation - these review in detail a selection of cases to determine whether the method of disposal is considered appropriate, based on a review of the information/evidence available to the decision maker at the time.

Government works closely with the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) whose Charging and Out of Court Disposals strategy (2017-2021) sets out their position and support for forces around OOCDs. We publish data and pay attention to trends in the use of Out of Court Disposals on an ongoing basis.

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