Suffolk: PCC Tim Passmore to shine spotlight on ‘soft touch’ punishments for serious violent crimes

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner

Monday, April 14, 2014
11:50 AM

Out-of-court punishments are to be put under the spotlight to ensure Suffolk is not seen as going “soft” on crime, the EADT can reveal.

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Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has backed plans to set up an “out-of-court scrutiny mechanism” to ensure offenders receive the “appropriate retribution that the public and victims expect”.

It has been devised by the Suffolk and Norfolk Criminal Justice Board in response to public concerns about the use of “restorative justice” whereby criminals, some of whom have committed violent crimes, have been let off without formal convictions in return for an apology to the victim, compensation or alternative resolution.

Mr Passmore said he was not opposed to the practice when implemented for less serious crimes, as intended, to give low-level offenders a second chance.

However he conceded there had been some “public disquiet” about the punishment and said he was not prepared to see serious crimes “swept under the carpet”.

“It’s absolutely imperative that the public has complete trust and confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole,” he said.

“There are certain instances where it has caused disquiet for the public and I’m here to see to that.

“I’m not opposed to restorative justice but we need to be absolutely clear that if we use these alternative mechanisms that they provide the appropriate retribution that the public and the victims expect.

“What we need to do is put it under the microscope and make sure it’s really working and the victims are truly satisfied

“I do believe in giving people a second chance but we cannot be seen as having a system that appears to be a soft touch.”

The Police and Crime Panel report in which the scrutiny mechanism scheme is mentioned as background to a meeting planned for April 25, highlights public concerns with the restorative justice system, also known as community resolution.

Although its authors claim that “many people like the idea of an immediate response from the ‘bobby on the beat’”, it also concedes that “victims sometimes feel the offences are not always taken seriously”.

“Last year the PCC and Chief Constable were questioned about violent criminals being dealt with by community resolution,” the report adds.

The latest police statistics show that the practice has decreased over time. A quarter of all crimes solved between July and September in 2012, were dealt with by restorative justice, where as only 17% were between October and December 2013.

In 2012 the EADT reported that since community resolutions were introduced in 2009 there had been 8,439 over the three years, but 13% have involved offenders who had already gone through the process and one in three were for offenders with some form of criminal record

A Freedom of Information request submitted in 2013 also revealed that crimes dealt with by resolutions have included common assault, threats to kill, wounding and GBH.

A Suffolk police spokesman said at the time that guidelines are set out nationally and adhered to, which ensures their use is proportionate and appropriate.

“The views and wishes of the victim are always at the forefront of our policing and as such each offence is assessed on a case-by-case basis and discussed with the victim,” they added.

4 comments

  • When is the next election that can rid him from us.what he tells us what he wants then what he does is some times completely different ,still like all politicians do because that is what he is.

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    pandy

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Roger and no doubt others...Passmore is looking at out of court disposal..the example of the guy with 200+ motoring offences and 'got off' was a in court disposal. Community Resolution can also only be issued if the victim supports it...if they don't then can't be issued. I agree with more scrutiny but maybe the 'outraged' public need to be realistic and aware of what is actually being looked at.

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    chris dea

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • 'Roger Baker', you are too excited. What we are told and what happens can often be very different. Mr Passmore talks of "giving people a second chance" but I ask WHY? Did they not know their actions were wrong or criminal the first time? Can I steal or assault someone once and that is okay? The likely outcome is that MORE and MORE criminals will be given the soft-touch treatment for one reason only: We have allowed crime to proliferate to such an extent (by being soft on crime) that we do not have the resources to take all these people to Court and to put in prison. So we find ways to 'let off' criminals. The fact that to punish MORE SEVERELY would actually reduce the numbers drastically has not yet entered the thick skulls of those who govern us.

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    Johnthebap

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Well done Tim Passmore !! At last someone has gauged the public mood correctly. The public is fed up with seeing persistent and violent criminals being let off just because they promise not to do it again or show "remorse". Just the other day, a person convicted of 200 motoring offences was let off with a suspended prison sentence - it is an absolute certainty that he will offend again within weeks of this "sentence".

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    Roger Baker

    Monday, April 14, 2014

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