Consultation on out of court disposals

Closed 9 Jan 2014

Opened 14 Nov 2013

Results Updated 17 Nov 2014

The response to the joint Government and police consultation on Out of Court Disposals (OOCD) sets out plans for a streamlined and more effective system.

The proposals in this response will simplify the adult disposal framework, putting victims at the heart of the system. They will also give police powers to tackle low-level offending in a way that will have more impact on offenders. This new system will be piloted in three police forces - West Yorkshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire -  from 3 November and is expected to run for 12 months.

The OOCD review was launched in September 2013. As part of the review, a public consultation ran from November 2013 to 9 January 2014. There was also an opportunity for interested parties to respond to questions posted on an interactive website and practitioners to participate in one of six practitioner workshops arranged across England and Wales.

Files:

Overview

We are consulting in order to give the public and practitioners an opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences of out of court disposals (OOCDs) and their use, and consider how they might be reformed. We want to pull together the knowledge, expertise, experience and opinions of policing and criminal justice stakeholders, and the public more widely, to ensure that out of court disposals are as effective, simple and transparent as possible. We also want to ensure that that any changes to OOCDs made as a result of this consultation are based on full consideration of their potential impact on victims, offenders, communities and the criminal justice system (CJS).
 
This consultation is being led by the Ministry of Justice and the police, in partnership with the Home Office, the Attorney General’s Office and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). This reflects the reality that OOCDs can only be delivered effectively if policy and operational objectives are aligned.
 
The current out of court disposals landscape has evolved over a number of years. The need to deal with some offences flexibly and efficiently outside the court process has resulted in a number of different OOCDs. These range from informal outcomes between parties, often developed by the police for use in their local area and drawing on restorative justice principles, through to formalised cautions with conditions attached which, if the offender fails to comply may result in prosecution for the original offence.
 
OOCDs are a valuable tool to the police and others. They can reduce bureaucracy and keep police on the front line at a time when resources are constrained. Used correctly, they can represent a proportionate and effective response to anti-social behaviour and low level criminality. Research indicates that, where they form part of an OOCD, reparative and restorative responses to low-level offending result in generally high levels of victim satisfaction. They can re-engage individuals with the justice system and improve public confidence. Importantly, local flexibility ensures that the police and the CPS can use their professional judgement to tackle local crime by deciding how best to proceed in any individual case. However, public confidence in the effectiveness or appropriateness of this system can be damaged by the perception that significant numbers of serious or violent offences have been wrongly dealt with by means of an out of court disposal.
 

Audiences

  • Citizens
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Litigants
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Prosecutors
  • Offenders
  • Victims
  • Legal professional bodies

Interests

  • Courts
  • Criminal justice
  • Law