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Victims of crime to be given a bigger say on offender punishment

Nottinghamshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Cutland is to unveil a new public survey today which asks people how they would like to the Force to deal with low-level crime.

The consultation exercise is designed to gauge public opinion on the use of community remedies – a type of resolution which provides offenders with an alternative to going to court and receiving a criminal record. Community remedies can only be used in special circumstances such as very minor offences, when an offender has committed a low-level offence for the first time, when an offender shows remorse for their actions and most importantly when a victim agrees that this is the right approach to justice. Each community remedy is unique depending on the background to the case and victims work together with police to identify particular tasks for offenders to complete as part of the resolution. 

Commissioners are legally required to develop a Community Remedy Document which sets out how criminal justice partners including the Police will deliver court-free sanctions across the county and for which offences or incidents will qualify for this holistic approach. One of the main driving forces behind community remedies is the opportunities it provides to rehabilitate offenders. There is some evidence to suggest that reconciling victims with offenders can help criminals to understand the impact and consequences of their offending and ultimately change their behavioural patterns in the future.

The survey asks the public what kinds of offences would be appropriately dealt with via a community remedy and which tasks they would support as part of the resolution. Options include a face-to-face apology to the victim, a written apology to the victim, a restorative justice conference (where a police officer or independent mediator brings victim and offender together to resolve the issues), self-funded rehabilitation (where the offender pays to get help or treatment), and compensation (where an offender pays for the damage they have caused or to replace property stolen).

The results of the survey will be collated and fed into Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping’s final Community Remedy Document which will provide police and criminal justice agencies with a variety of options when dealing with low-level crime and isolated incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Deputy Commissioner Cutland said: “This survey gives local people a voice on some of our key operational decisions. The use of community remedies is very much complementary to our approach to treat victims and offenders as people, rather than numbers, with problems which need to be overcome. However, we need to make sure that both victims and the public at large agree that this style of punishment is indeed meaningful and will play a supportive role in the rehabilitation of offenders.

“It’s quite clear that not all situations will justify a community remedy approach but where it is warranted, victims will be empowered to make personal decisions on the punishment of the offender, allowing them to make amends and consequently easing their own recovery process. Offenders will be more accountable to victims and will also face immediate consequences for their actions which could make them less likely to reoffend in the future.”

The survey will be available to complete online at http://www.nottinghamshire.pcc.police.uk/Get-Involved/Consultations-and-Surveys/Community-Remedy.aspx  and at various events over the coming weeks. The finalised Community Remedy Document will be available on the Commissioner’s website at a later stage. 

Ends

Posted on Friday 13th June 2014
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