A panel chaired by Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Tracey Onslow meets throughout the year to review criminal cases and ensure consistency in the outcomes.
The criminal cases that are reviewed have been dealt with by way of community resolution or caution. Community resolutions and cautions are options available to the police in instances where the court process would not be appropriate.
The panel is made up of subject matter experts, including Senior Magistrates, Lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service, Senior Probation Officers, Youth Offending Specialists, Victim Support Restorative Justice Specialists as well as senior officers from West Mercia Police. A selection of criminal cases are assessed by the panel to ensure the outcomes are consistent and in line with force policy.
When cases do not meet relevant standards the force is asked to go back and review the case and report on lessons learned. The work of the panel has led to a series of improvements in how the force deals with out of court disposals, including knife crime, domestic abuse and hate crime.
At the most recent meeting, the panel determined that a number of domestic abuse could have been more appropriately dealt with. Anger management courses have been funded by the PCC and in some of these cases several suspects and their families would have benefited from being referred into the programme. Instead the underlying behaviours of the offender were left unaddressed, which could result in reoffending.
While the panel cannot change the outcome of a particular cases, it can make recommendations which lead to organisational change in how the force operates moving forward.
PCC John Campion said “As part of my commitment to the communities of West Mercia I need to ensure the best outcome for the victims and the most appropriate action is taken against perpetrators. These Out of Court Disposal meetings check the consistency of the outcome reducing crime and reoffending following my investment.
“I am pleased the force are taking these findings and using them to improve the service provided to the community. Creating a safer West Mercia through effective partnership working.”