A national and local approach to dealing with low level crime.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary (ASC) has taken the recommendation by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) that the framework for OOCDs available to use with adults, should reduce from five options to two. Currently, Police Officers may utilise the Community Resolution (CR), Simple Caution (SC), Conditional Caution (CC), Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) and a Cannabis/Khat warning.
The two tier framework will result in the CR and CC being the only options available to use for adults when an offence is appropriate to be dealt with outside of the realms of the court (it must be noted that this change has not yet been implemented and subject to the project timeline). There are two main reasons for this change; firstly, to simplify the process for Officers. With the multiple options available, there is confusion and lack of confidence in how and when to use OOCDs, leading to their underuse.
Secondly, is the need to make OOCDs more meaningful, impactful and effective. With a CR outcome, activities can be attached for the offender to engage with on a voluntary basis (with the prospect of escalation in disposal type where non-compliance is evident). This also provides opportunity for the victim to have a say in the nature of the outcome. Moreover, diversionary activities can be included to attempt to reduce offending. The CC holds a function to include conditions that the offender must comply within a specified time frame (this is commonly 4 months for summary only offences). This holds a more punitive weighting, as if breached, the disposal can be escalated to court in some cases. Conditions are discussed with the victim and like the CR diversionary activities/interventions should be considered as part of this.
To ensure that needs are met in relation to changing behaviour of offenders the Constabulary has agreed a model whereby a role will be created to assess the needs of offenders; both the critical needs around their offending behaviour but also the holistic needs of that person, which may include things like employment and mental health. This service will be called ASCEND (Avon and Somerset Constabulary Engage Navigate Divert).
Where Officers identify a case which is suitable for a CR or CC and feel the offender acknowledges their behaviour and would benefit from behavioural and/or holistic intervention, they will be able to refer them to ASCEND. This victim will also be consulted as part of this decision making. The ASCEND worker will meet face to face with the offender to assess needs and form a condition plan for that individual to follow and comply with where necessary. Officers will be able to set conditions themselves where they are able to or feel that the ASCEND service is not required.
This model has been implemented in varied forms across a number of forces; for example Devon and Cornwall, Durham and West Midlands. A key element to these models is the intervention pathways made available to use as the conditions or outcomes, these interventions seek to address the offending behaviour. Where they are already being utilised in other forces they are showing positive results with reduced re-offending, reduced harm and reduced costs.
We will strive to achieve similar results through the ASCEND delivery model in Avon and Somerset. In addition to this, where criminal behaviour affects not just the community but households and the dependants within those households, we hope to achieve reduced risks and reduced adverse experiences to the network of that offender.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) sets out that Domestic Abuse (DA) cases and Hate Crime should not be used with a condition caution. If this were to remain it would pose limitations as to what disposal could be used with these crime types under the two tier framework, therefore through the use of pilots and evidence building, proposals have been made to the DPP across the country to uplift this embargo.
DA is further ahead in this consideration as a wealth of evidence has been building to show that perpetrator intervention does work at an early stage. The CARA model has set precedence with this approach and has approval in its methodology from the DPP. As a constabulary we have made an application to the DPP to utilise CARA with conditional cautions, this is yet to be agreed.
Hate Crime is much more in its infancy in terms of being able to use it with a conditional caution. The DPP has requested that it must be consulted on nationally and where forces would like this uplift they must consult locally. This local and national discussion is live; through various local consultation streams we have had positive feedback. We shall continue to do this until the national consultation closes and we are able to feed into this. At this time alongside West Midlands and Hampshire we are the only forces exploring this opportunity. Once a national level decision has been made and if a positive one, we endeavour to explore the options for intervention delivery.
Below are a number of interventions that we currently have available in force:
Service: Victim Support, Perpetrator pays model
(NB: Victim Support do review case by case so there is flexibility)
Service: Perpetrator pays model
Offence category: Kerb Crawling
Service: Delivered by AWP, Commissioned
Offence category: A onetime only opportunity where found in possession of drugs for personal use not supply. History irrelevant but engagement/responsibility required.
Service: Nelson Trust, Commissioned
Offence category: Arrest intervention for females who are in need of support and diversion. Age 18+.
Service: Restorative Approaches Avon and Somerset, Commissioned
Offence Category: Available across the whole criminal justice system. Case by Case basis.
Based on demand areas, below are the crime types that we would like to also offer intervention for. Some have been identified; others await DPP decision making or tendering processes:
Offence category: Domestic Abuse – intimate partners
Action: Pilot Award: Await final DPP (CPS) decision
Service: No identified provider at this time
Offence category: Hate Crime National consultation pending
Action: Local consultation is live. Following consultation await final DPP (CPS) decision
Service: Perpetrator pays model
Action: Pilot Award
Offence category: Alcohol related offending & Drug related offending where the DEP is not appropriate
Action: Tendering process to commence
This model allows for ASC to utilise readily available interventions that can be piloted within the local landscape, to aid us in shaping interventions for the future. These pilots will show levels of need, effectiveness in changing behaviours but also continued learning around the gaps in need for offenders at this level. They will be subject to providing monthly and quarterly reports and will be held to reporting on specified outcomes. The providers will also be asked to form part of a localised intervention working group to share best practice.
ASC recognise there are partners and organisations locally that deliver interventions and have a wealth of experience to offer, therefore where we are unable to utilise local partners in this early stage of delivery we hope that you will join us in taking learning from the pilots and where we are able to, utilise the findings in order to shape interventions locally.
Some of the interventions have included a ‘perpetrator pays’ method. Nationally views vary around the ethics of this; however there are a number of reasons as to why we propose utilising this method for some of the interventions. Firstly it ensures sustainability of a service but also maintains the capacity and quality to deliver. Secondly it could be debated the offender should face a punitive element to the outcome; therefore where a victim has been disadvantaged and harmed, a financial charge could be viewed as a positive and appropriate sanction, but also a deterrent. We commit that this approach will be considered at the ASC ethics committee for consideration in long term use.