The Chair of the Out of Court Disposals Scrutiny Panel has published an annual report summarising the work of the Panel in 2017.
Out of court disposals (OoCD) allow the police to deal quickly and proportionately with low-level, often first-time offending which could more appropriately be resolved without a prosecution at court.
These cases are dealt with without the involvement of the courts. As such there is a public expectation that the police, who in such cases act as ‘judge and jury’, have some checks and balances in exercising that power and follow set guidelines and policies.
The OoCD Scrutiny Panel was set up to scrutinise Dorset Police’s use of such disposals, to ensure they are appropriate, proportionate, consistent with national and local policy, and consider the victims’ wishes where appropriate. It is one of several scrutiny panels administered by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to support the Police and Crime Commissioner in fulfilling his statutory responsibility to hold Dorset Police to account.
Dorset Police has seen multiple successes from a scheme funded by the OPCC, where high risk offenders voluntarily wear tags in a bid to stop re-offending.
The voluntary offender tagging scheme provides offenders with the opportunity to be fitted with a GPS tag for an agreed period while they are on probation or following their release from prison.
The tagging initiative is generally provided to offenders who have a disproportionately negative impact on communities from committing crimes such as theft and burglary. As well as deterring offending, in a few cases where bail conditions have been breached, evidence from the tags can help in court, saving the criminal justice system time and money.
It allows repeat offenders to build trust and prove their commitment to breaking the cycle of re-offending. The tag itself acts as a deterrent to stop temptation or to prevent their previous associates from trying to persuade them back into crime.
Imposing a tag as a condition of bail is currently not permitted. The early evidence indicates that this is an area worthy of further consideration.
The Police and Crime Commissioner visited Her Majesty’s Prison Portland.
The visit included a tour of the training and employment workshops aimed at rehabilitating offenders and helping them integrate back into society when they leave the prison.
He also viewed the Violence Reduction Hub and visited the security and evidence processing section.
The possibility of using the Collingwood Wing as a dedicated Veterans Hub is currently being explored.