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Top cop aims to deal with crime out of the courtrooms in Lincolnshire

By Boston Target  |  Posted: December 09, 2013

Top cop aims to deal with crime out of the courtrooms in Lincolnshire

Neil Rhodes

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LINCOLNSHIRE'S top policeman says he does not necessarily want to see more criminals going to court for their crimes.

Temporary Chief Constable Neil Rhodes said that in certain cases, crimes are better dealt with out of court by punishments including cautions and fixed penalties.

Mr Rhodes made his comments as Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick gave his quarterly update at a public meeting.

The force is currently scrutinising whether it charges, summons, cautions and issues penalty notices appropriately.

It is also looking at how restorative justice – where victims tell offenders the true impact of their crime – is used.

Members of Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel questioned whether some offenders were getting off lightly.

And panel chairman Norman Norris asked Mr Hardwick: "Do you want more criminals going to court?"

Mr Hardwick asked Mr Rhodes to reply, who said: "Surprisingly, the answer is no.

"We need an awful lot less crime.

"We need the disproportionate number of people that commit crime to appear before crown court and the magistrates' courts.

"When crime occurs we want to resolve it.

"In the past we have seen children criminalised when they should not have been and we have seen people pick up a criminal record when they shouldn't have done.

"Really, a mature conversation around the range of tools available is the way forward.

"When you look at the crime category violence with injury that could be something as simple as bruising.

"It that's an incident that's taken place between two relatively young people that might have been better resolved other than in a court appearance.

"The number of crimes solved over the past year is just over 11,000.

"There is a number of different routes.

"Someone is charged or summonsed and taken to court, or people have other offences taken into account at court.

"Crimes are also resolved through restorative justice, which also can be used in addition to a court sanction.

"Forty-one per cent of crimes in Lincolnshire are dealt with other than through a court."

Nationally, the proportion of offences brought to justice outside court through fixed penalties, cautions and cannabis warnings increased from 23 per cent to 40 per cent in the five years to 2008.

Mr Rhodes asked how the public interest is served in bringing a death by dangerous driving charge against an elderly driver who kills their spouse in a car crash, or charging an under-age boyfriend and girlfriend over a sexual relationship.

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