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Alternatives to Going to Court

Alternatives include out of court disposals and Restorative Justice.

Out of court disposals allow the police to deal quickly and proportionately with less serious, often first time offending which could be more appropriately resolved without a prosecution at court.

Out of court disposals are not suitable for more serious cases. They would not normally be considered for those who repeatedly commit crimes.

Restorative justice (RJ) is a process which gives victims the opportunity to have a say in the resolution of offences committed against them and offers them the chance to come face to face with their offender.

Out of Court Disposal

To be suitable for an out of court disposal:

  • The police must have evidence that the offender has committed an offence
  • The offender must admit to the behaviour or offence and agree to the out of court disposal; and
  • The officer must think the evidence is enough for court proceedings but considers an Out of Court Disposal would be more appropriate
  • The police officer must have consulted with you to discuss the resolution or conditions to be imposed.

The following disposals are available to the police:

Community resolutions such as:

Reparation to the victim - for example, repairing damage.

Reparation to the community - for example, by doing unpaid work in the local area such as litter picking or cleaning up graffiti.

Paying compensation - for example, to the victim or for theft and shoplifting.

Structured Activity - for example, drug and alcohol treatment services, to be offered as part of a conditional caution.

Enter an agreement - for example: an Acceptable Behaviour contract where the perpetrator agrees to behave appropriately in the future or face more formal consequences.

Mediation - for example: to help resolve a dispute between neighbours.

Youth Cautions - for those aged between 10-17 years of age.

Youth Conditional Cautions - for those aged between 10-17 years of age.

Conditional Cautions - for those aged 18 years and over.

Out of court disposals aim to give victims more say in the punishment of offenders out of court, and to deal proportionately with the offence committed.

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice (RJ) can involve face to face meetings between the victim and offender or contact between victim and offender through a third party.

The process allows you, the victim, to ask questions about why the offender committed the crime and has been shown to help victims to address any ongoing fears they may have. The process allows you to tell the offender directly how the crime has impacted on you and to identify ways to prevent the crime from happening again.

For offenders, RJ processes offer a unique opportunity to face up to what they have done, take responsibility and make up for the harm their offending has caused.

You can request to take part in RJ at any point through the criminal justice process. Your police officer will discuss this with you or refer you to the Staffordshire Restorative Justice Hub.

The Staffordshire Restorative Justice Hub can be contacted on 0330 0881 339 or via email at admin@rjhub.org.uk

To find out more, visit Restorative Justice.