Russell Webster - Work with Offenders
Work with Offenders looks at a new briefing from the Centre for Justice Innovation
The recent White Paper on sentencing reform includes a pledge to simplify Out of Court Disposals (OOCDs) with the ambition of ensuring that “very low-level offenders can be dealt with swiftly and proportionately, without coming before a court”. We have known for a long time that keeping low-level offenders out of the formal criminal justice system is an effective way of preventing further reoffending.
The government plans to simplify the OOCD framework by reducing the number of disposals from six to two. The proposed new system will include an ‘upper tier’ disposal (akin to the current conditional caution) and a ‘lower tier’ disposal (akin to the current community resolution). This simplification was proposed six years ago and formally encouraged by the National Police Chiefs’ Council three years ago. However, while some police forces have moved fully to this two-tier model, others still retain the old system, with the unpalatable consequence of low level offenders encountering different justice systems depending on where they live.
A new briefing from the Centre for Justice Innovation applauds this simplification and makes recommendations for how it can be most effective. Their five main points are:
The Centre for Justice Innovation argues that implementing this new framework will take considerable investment in time, guidance, training and resources to make it successful and that the new system must be complied with in spirit and not just via a tick box fashion. The charity also advises that there should be national coordination between diversion scheme to ensure that the current postcode lottery is not replicated under the new system.
OOCDs are a proven response to low-level offending, provided that they scale down people’s contact with the criminal justice system. We now have considerable evidence from a number of successful diversion schemes around the country to ensure that the new system is as effective as possible.