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Cumbria ‘Out of Court Disposal Scrutiny Panel’ was established in 2013 and is chaired by Office of Police and Crime Commissioner. The intention of the panel is to provide transparency and accountability and to increase public understanding, confidence and trust in how the Constabulary use Out of Court Disposals. There is particular focus on the delivery of appropriate and proportionate justice and ensuring redress for victims of crime.

The purpose of the Scrutiny Panel is to independently review a selection of anonymised cases that have been resolved by use of an out of court disposal. The scrutiny panel has no referral or appeals capability and is not intended to re-judge cases. It will assess the relevant processes, interactions and decisions to identify any areas for development and continuous organisational learning.

Out of Court Disposals allow the police to deal quickly and proportionately with low level, often first time offending which can be appropriately resolved without a prosecution at court. Delivered ethically, effectively, to the right people and in the right circumstances they provide swift and meaningful justice for victims, hold offenders accountable for their actions and reduce re-offending. The aim of the panel is 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. The panel will consider the offence category and severity of offence, evidence present at the time of disposal and rationale in officer’s decision making process and whether decisions were victim focused.

Who is Involved?

Independent Chairperson - Member of Police and Crime Commissioner's Office

Cumbria Constabulary Chief Officers

Crime Registrar

Lead Diversity Officer

Crime Reduction & Criminal Justice Partnership Officer

Magistrates

Crown Prosecution Service

Victim Support

Youth Offending Service

National Probation Service

Cumbria Independent Advisory Group

How are cases selected?

Currently cases are selected for the Out of Court Disposal Panel, to a representative from the scrutiny panel (not a member Cumbria Constabulary) and overseen by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioners. This ensures transparency, maintains public confidence and allows the system to have credibility in Cumbria Constabulary’s desire to be open and accountable.

  • Category A: Offences with a classification that a member of the public might consider to be outside the scope of the Out of Court Disposal Framework, such as Serious Assault with Injury, Domestic Violence incidents, Hate Crime and Serious Sexual Offences
  • Category B: Offences featuring offenders with previous out of court disposals or criminal convictions
  • Category C: Any crime which has any Hate Crime or Domestic Violence Marker associated with it
  • Category D: A selection of Community Resolution disposals
  • Category E: A selection of any out of court disposals where it is indicated that Restorative Justice has been utilised.
  • Category F: A selection of youth and adult cautions not falling above categories
  • Category G – Outcome 22 (Pathways) A selection of Outcome 22 disposals (Diversionary, educational or intervention activity undertaken) not falling in above categories.

What types of Out of Court Disposals are available?

Adult Simple Caution:

A simple caution is a non-statutory disposal for adult offenders designed for circumstances where it is in the public interest not to prosecute but, instead to issue a formal warning.

In order for a simple caution to be issued there must be:

  • A clear and reliable admission to all elements of the offence, which is recorded and compliant under Section 26 of the Ministry of Justice: Simple Cautions for Adult Offenders.
  • Sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in respect of the offence, if the offender were to be prosecuted (Sect 28)
  • An agreement by the offender to accept the caution

A simple caution is not a criminal conviction. It is, however, an admission of guilt and forms part of an offender’s criminal record. If a caution is administered it will be retained in line with relevant legislation.

Community Resolution:

A community resolution is a formal disposal that deals with low level offending. It empowers officers to apply their professional judgement in deciding whether a community resolution is the ‘right thing to do’ after considering the offence, victim and offender.

Any adult or youth can received a community resolutions but the following neds to be taken into consideration:

  • Offence
  • Victim
  • Offender
  • Other considerations

Cumbria Constabulary considers the most appropriate offences for community resolutions are likely to be:

  • Low level criminal damage
  • Low value theft
  • Minor assaults without injury

This promotes a more victim-orientated approach, focused on providing a better service to the victim of crime and the potential for engaging them in the process.

Youth Caution:

A youth caution is a non-statutory disposal for youth offenders; they are used where it is in the public interest not to prosecute. Youth Cautions can only be issued to offenders between 10 and 17 years of age.

Youth Conditional Caution:

A youth conditional caution is a statutory disposal for youth offenders introduced by Legal Aid, Punishment and Sentencing of Offenders Act 2012. They are caution with conditions attached and can be used where it is in the public interest not to prosecute.

In order for a youth conditional caution to be issued the following must be achieved:

  • Offender has not denied the offence. Any previous offending and willingness to engage in process should also inform part of the decision making process.
  • Sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction
  • The victim should be consulted and views sought, however the victim cannot insist on the manner in which the crime is disposed.
  • It must be considered that the public interest is best served by the offender complying with suitable conditions rather than a formal prosecution.

Deferred Caution:

This disposal option is generally for use with lower-level offences and offenders with no or limited criminal history and primarily adopts the framework of the MOJ adult cautioning policy.

  • Offenders from out of force area are excluded from this type of caution.
  • Cases referred to Pathways under the Deferred Caution scheme should be no more than two months old (from commencement of investigation).
  • Repeat use of a Deferred Caution is permitted within two years of completing a prior intervention, providing it is not for a like for like offence.
  • The disposal creates an opportunity for improved victim engagement (victims did not have any involvement in simple cautions), and offers rehabilitative opportunities for the offender, thus reducing the risk of reoffending.
  • The Rehabilitative condition is compulsory and will be managed by the Pathways programme.
  • This programme is designed to last no longer that 8 weeks (though compensation conditions may last 16 weeks where necessary, appropriate, proportionate, and achievable).
  • Successful completion of agreed conditions will result in the crime being closed – Resolved – Outcome 22 – Deferred Caution;
  • Unsuccessful completion of the conditions will result in case offence being recorded as a caution on PNC or dependant on circumstances NFA

Deferred Charge:

The same in principal as the Deferred Caution, but for use alongside more serious offences and persistent offenders.

  • Deferred Charge cannot be offered more than once in a 12-month period (from date of completion).
  • Offenders from out of force area are excluded where the victim is also not a Cumbria resident.
  • Unlike previous Out of Court Disposals, offenders with a significant criminal history, who commit offences that are suitable for disposal at Magistrates court may qualify.
  • Research shows that many offences dealt with at court have no rehabilitative element, and re-offending rates are high.
  • This disposal option is similar to the Integrated Offender Management programmes, providing an opportunity for the offender to address personal issues influencing their behaviour.
  • Pilot schemes of this nature elsewhere in the country have produced positive results.
  • This programme generally lasts 16 weeks (maximum 20) in duration during which an individual must not re-offend, or they will be taken to court for this and subsequent offences.
  • Successful completion, as with Deferred Caution will result in the matter being closed as Resolved – Outcome 22 -Deferred Charge;
  • Unsuccessful completion of the conditions will result in either prosecution and case offences being recorded.

Key Findings for 2024

The Community Remedy

Under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014 a mandatory requirement was placed upon police Forces to discuss out of court disposal options with victims of crime, this process is known as Community Remedy.

Community Remedy is a process that aims to give victims of certain types of crime and anti-social behaviour the opportunity to have a say in how the person responsible is dealt with by the police.

Dealing appropriately with certain types of crime out of court, means victims get justice quicker, and the offender faces consequences for their actions quicker.

The police officer dealing with your case will discuss the Community Remedy with you, what options are available and if enforceable by the police or not. The police officer dealing with your case will invite you to choose one or more appropriate options from the Community Remedy menu.

The offender must have accepted responsibility for their behaviour. Should the offender refuse to accept this option then there will be consideration of court prosecution or another formal disposal.

Taking part can be a very positive experience for everyone.

The Community Remedy Menu

  • Reparation: The offender can be asked to pay for, or repair damage to your property, clean graffiti, or undertake a community-based activity such as litter picking.
  • Restoration: A facilitated and structured process that enables direct or indirect communication between those harmed and the person causing the harm (Restorative Justice).
  • Rehabilitation: Referral to an intervention programme (such as an alcohol or substance misuse diversion scheme / Domestic Abuse programme / offence focused intervention, Youth Justice Service, Pathways).
    All interventions aim to address the cause(s) of the behaviour and reduce the risk of reoffending.
  • Restrictive: A condition not to contact victim or go to a specific location.

The police will tell you if your chosen options are enforceable, or a voluntary arrangement. If any of the chosen options are unsuitable, the police will guide you.

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice gives victims the chance to safely communicate with their offender to explain the real impact of the crime or behaviour upon them and / or ask questions that only the offender could answer, it empowers a victim by giving them a voice.

This process also holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends for the harm caused.

If you think Restorative Justice might help you and you wish to speak to someone for an informal chat or to find out more call 0800 612 5810 or email – rjhub@cumbria.police.uk or for further information visit Remedi (remediuk.org)

Under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014 a mandatory requirement was placed upon police forces to discuss out of court disposal options with victims of crime, this process is known as Community Remedy.