The term ‘Out of Court Disposals’ (OOCD) refers to a range of options available to the Police to use in certain cases as an alternative to a prosecution. By using these alternative disposals correctly the Police are able to deal with less serious offences, and offenders with little or no previous offending history, in a way that is both proportionate and rehabilitative. Additionally the disposals are designed to address the need make good any loss or harm sustained by the victim or community.
| Adult Offenders|
In Leicestershire the two OOCD options available when dealing with Adult offenders are Adult Community Resolutions and Adult Conditional Cautions.
Adult Community Resolutions should be used by officers and staff to secure desistance from offending behaviour as an outcome. They should also be used to make good any harm caused by an offender. Community Resolution is a way of dealing with low level offending in a way that is proportionate and appropriate where it is not in the public interest to prosecute. This disposal must only be used where the officer or staff member is confident that the outcome will prevent further offending and the offender is likely to comply with the agreed actions. Community Resolution can only be offered where the offender admits the offence or accepts responsibility. The victim’s views should also be obtained and taken into consideration.
Adult Conditional Cautions enable officers to deal with low level offending outside of the formal court system for cases which would be suitable for prosecution but where the public interest is better served by the offender complying with suitable conditions. The disposal formally records the offender's behaviour and imposes conditions that must be met within a specified time. The offender must also admit to the offence and accept the conditions to be imposed. Failure to comply with the set conditions may result in the offender facing prosecution for the original offence. Again the victim’s views on the disposal should be obtained and taken into consideration.
There are a wide range of options available to be used in connection with Adult OOCDs, and these fall into a number of set categories: Rehabilitative (e.g. attendance at specific programmes designed to tackle addictions or challenge views), Reparative (e.g. making good any financial or material loss sustained by a victim or community), Restrictive (e.g. curfew, not to approach victim, property or area), Punitive (e.g. pay a financial penalty).
A Youth is defined as any person between the ages of 10 and 17 years. In Leicestershire there are three OOCD options available when dealing with Youth offenders: Youth Community Resolutions, Youth Cautions and Youth Conditional Cautions. All of these conditions involve joint Police and Youth Offending Service (YOS) decision making, and YOS intervention with a view to preventing further offending. The basis of these options is similar to those for Adult offenders with the extra option of a simple Caution which is used instead of a Conditional Caution in cases where there is no evidence that the youth will not comply with any YOS intervention. YOS interventions can include, amongst other options, working with the youth in the areas of anger management, substance misuse and weapon possession.
As with all other Police Force areas there is a national requirement for the Police and Crime Commissioner to facilitate regular scrutiny panels to review the Police use of OOCDs, and to give an open and independent assessment of the appropriateness of the Police decision making.
There are separate panels to scrutinise both Adult and Youth OOCDs, with both panels meeting on a quarterly basis. The panels assess appropriate use, highlight examples of good practise and makes recommendations for improvement. Each panel considers performance information and changes to legislation, policy and practise to support them in their role.
The overarching aim of the scrutiny panels is to bring transparency to the use of OOCDs, and to increase understanding and confidence in them as appropriate disposals. The findings of each panel, together with responses to any recommendations made, are widely reported to support this aim.
The membership of each panel consists of:
- Representative of the Police and Crime Commissioner
- Detective Chief Superintendent (Crime)
- Senior Prosecutors from the Crown Prosecution Service
- Chair of the Magistrates Bench
- Magistrates Court Legal Advisor
- The Force Crime Registrar
- Members of the Probation Service
- Representatives from both the City and County Youth Offending Service
- Representatives of other agencies involved in the Criminal Justice System
In advance of the panel meetings 30 cases dealt with by way of an OOCD are chosen at random by the OPCC (15 for each meeting) for scrutiny. At least a third of these cases relate to Domestic Abuse offences. Following the panel's review each case receives a grading:
- Appropriate and consistent with policies
- Appropriate but with observations
- Inappropriate and inconsistent with policies
- Panel fails to reach an agreement
The results and findings are then widely circulated, and an individual review is reported back to the officer in charge of the case and their supervisor.
A full report of each panel's findings can be found HERE