ACPO comment on Criminal Justice Joint Inspection report Exercising Discretion: The Gateway to Justice
ACPO comments on an inspection into the police service's use of cautions, penalty notices for disorder and restorative justice
ACPO lead for out of court disposals, Deputy Chief Constable Chris Weigh, said:
“This report is a helpful contribution to the debate on how the police service use out of court disposals and restorative justice to respond to crime. It recognises that there are circumstances in which the public sees the value in out of court disposals, especially in the context of a first offence, and that these methods can lead to high levels of victim satisfaction and a reduction in reoffending.
“Prosecution before the courts is not always the right answer to minor offences or in particular circumstances. There are a range of out of court disposals available to police officers and their use does vary across England and Wales which is partly explained by the different styles of policing adopted by individual chief officers, who must respond to the specific issues within their local force areas.
“We would recognise that the growth of out of court disposals has been in a piecemeal fashion and we await the outcomes of the consultation on the sentencing green paper and will work with legislators to introduce any changes that are made.
“Although a one size fits all approach should be treated with caution, chief officers would welcome the introduction of a flexible framework for out of court disposals which would allow them, with their police authority, to choose how best to deal with low-level offence types. It is important that any framework preserves the ability of operational police officers to use their professional judgement and exercise their discretion.“
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The ACPO Press Office can be contacted via 020 7084 8946/47/48 (office hours) or via 07803 903686 (out of office hours).
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is an independent, professionally led strategic body. In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and partner agencies, ACPO leads and co-ordinates the direction and development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In times of national need ACPO, on behalf of all chief officers, co-ordinates the strategic policing response.
ACPO’s 311 members consist of 223 chief police officers from the home forces of assistant chief constable rank (commanders in the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police) and above, plus 60 senior police staff members from the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Non home forces such as British Transport Police have 25 chief police officer members and there are three members from the Service Police.