Some offenders of low level crime and anti-social behaviour in Wiltshire are now being held accountable for their actions within the community rather than in the court room.
Wiltshire Police officers are trained to use a form of restorative practice called Local Resolution. It puts victims at the heart of the process by giving them a say in how justice should be delivered.
Typical Local Resolutions are:
- Offenders apologising, verbally or in writing, to their victims
- Understanding how their actions made the victim feel
- Repairing damage they caused, such as replacing a fence
- Paying fair compensation to the victim
Giving the right conditions, officers are using their professional judgement and discretion to help create resolutions in line with victims’ wishes. The process also reduces time and paperwork needed to take a case to court and involves working with partner agencies, such as local councils.
All parties have to agree to the Local Resolution and if an offender fails to carry out their agreed actions they can be arrested and prosecuted.
Between May 2010 and July 2011 more than 1,100 Local Resolutions were carried out in Wiltshire. Examples include:
- Two men and a girl caught damaging flowerbeds planted by Calne schoolchildren repaid the community by spending a day working for free with the town council
- Two 16 year olds who started a fire on Highworth farmland carried out two days of community work. They cleaned and moved furniture as part of a project to open a community centre and cleared snow from elderly residents’ footpaths
Local Resolution is partly driven by a national policing report, which said investigating of crime had become overly driven by a performance regime, rather than encouraging a common sense approach to resolving incidents. Wiltshire Police is following other forces which have run similar successful schemes.
Police will still arrest and prosecute for offences where this is the right thing to do.