Operational partnerships - Community resolutions SOP (O32g)
1. Summary of Changes
1.1. The amendments to this interim standard operating procedure reflect the changes to the use of Community Resolutions.
1.2. Kent Police will move to a two tier framework and this will remove the use of PNDs, Cannabis Warnings and Khat Warnings. In anticipation of the decommissioning of these outcomes, this interim policy encourages the use of Community Resolutions over PNDs, Cannabis Warnings and Khat Warnings.
2.1 What this Procedure is About
2.1.1 This Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) gives operational direction in relation to the circumstances in which Community Resolutions will be used, how they will be delivered and how to record them.
2.1.2 Community Resolutions provide effective and transparent means for dealing with low level crime and anti-social incidents, offering an alternative to formal criminal justice proceedings but not to divert where it is appropriate to prosecute.
Community Resolutions support the professional judgement of police officers to assess an offence, the wishes of the victim, and the offender's history in order to reach an outcome which best meets the interests of the victim and of the public.
2.1.3 A Community Resolution should also be considered in conjunction with Conditional Cautions, Simple Cautions and other Court outcomes.
2.1.4 Throughout this SOP there are requirements to request authorisation from a supervisor, this will be an officer of Sergeant rank as a minimum. The SOP will clearly indicate if authorisation is required from a supervisor at the rank of Inspector or above.
Compliance with this SOP and any governing policy is mandatory.
2.2.1 The use of Community Resolutions is intended to address low level offences where there are no aggravating factors. Offences can include low value theft, non-recordable offences, low level public order (where there is no escalation and is an isolated incidence), as examples.
2.3 Excluded Offences
2.3.1 Community resolutions are generally considered not suitable for the following offences
Traffic offences (as they often carry endorsements);
2.3.2 The automatic assumption for knife crime is prosecution, a Community Resolution should only be considered in exceptional circumstances and must have the authority of an Inspector or above, with full rationale (including the public interest) recorded on the investigation.
2.3.3 Sexual and indictable only offences remain excluded. However, if there are very exceptional circumstances where a Community Resolution is considered for a sexual offence (that is not Indictable only) the appropriate outcome consultation must be made with a Superintendent for authorisation, with full rationale recorded (including the public interest) on the investigation.
2.3.4 Community Resolutions will not be considered for offenders that are subject to an existing court order (such as Criminal Behaviour Orders) on bail for other offences and/or are wanted on warrant; or be considered appropriate where it is suitable for prosecution before the court.
2.4 Drug Offences:
2.4.1 Community Resolutions can be used for possession of Class B or C drugs, where quantity is consistent with personal use. Community Resolutions should only be considered in exceptional circumstances for offences of Possession of Class A drugs and must have the authority of an Inspector or above.
2.4.2 A three-point escalation approach to Cannabis and Khat possession for adults is: Community Resolution, Conditional Caution and then charge.
The escalation process should be applied where the following conditions are present:
Offender is aged 18 and over
Offender is not vulnerable and must be capable of understanding the significance of questions put to them
Not suspected of being under the influence of any substance when the outcome is administered
The possession of Cannabis or Khat is consistent with personal use
The identification of the person has been verified
They accept responsibility for the offence of possession with no mitigating factors or defences raised
2.4.3 It must be made clear to the offender that they cannot receive multiple out of court disposals if they continue to re-offend. Only in very exceptional circumstances should an offender receive a second Community Resolution for a similar offence within a 12-month period and authorisation from an Inspector will be required, with full rationale recorded on the investigation (for Conditional Cautions it would not be expected to be appropriate for a similar offence within a 2-year period).
2.4.5 The offender’s on-going engagement and compliance with any previous conditions should be considered when determining whether further sanctions are appropriate.
2.5 Domestic Abuse:
2.5.1 Community Resolutions are rarely appropriate in domestic abuse cases. Domestic Abuse incidents are amongst the most hazardous of cases because of the risk to victims of re-victimisation or serious violence and the potential effects of controlling and coercive behaviour.
2.5.2 Community Resolutions must not be used for intimate partner abuse (between either current or previous partners) or where there is coercion and control. They can be used in offences involving Adolescent to Parent Violence or Abuse (APVA) and siblings with authorisation from the Youth Justice Team. Any use of a Community Resolution for non-intimate Domestic Abuse must be authorised by a substantive Inspector.
2.6 Hate Crime:
2.6.1 In certain circumstances the use of Community Resolution for a Hate Crime may be considered suitable. This must be a low-level offence and minor in nature in line with the gravity matrix. The victim’s views MUST be considered and support the use of a Community Resolution. A supervisor of Inspector or above must also give authority and both the victim’s views and authorisation must be fully detailed on the 1912 form.
3.1 Gravity Matrix
3.1.1 The gravity matrix is a decision-making tool to assist in deciding whether an adult offender can be dealt with by way of an out of court disposal. The matrix is based on the offence and taking into consideration any aggravating or mitigating factors, as well as the harm the offender may have presented based on their offending history. The victim’s views should also be taken into account, when considering the appropriate disposal.
The matrix provides a score-based approach that indicates the appropriate outcome (4=charge to 1=Community Resolution). The matrix also identifies mitigating and aggravating factors to be considered and links direct to offence types.
The gravity matrix should always be referred too when considering the most appropriate outcome and this should be recorded on the investigation log as to how the gravity matrix score has been arrived at.
3.2. Evidential standard
3.2.1 The investigation must meet with current investigative standards and the offence is one that would not be suitable for prosecution before the Court.
3.2.2 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) seeking to deal with a crime using a community resolution may do so where they have the power for the offence designated by the Chief Constable. Where such power has not been designated the crime must have been investigated by a warranted police officer. This investigation may have been conducted by an officer of any rank and may include independent patrol Special Constable. Once the investigation has been completed PCSO’s that are trained to Restorative Justice Level 1 are authorised to deliver the community resolution.
3.3 Acceptance of Responsibility
3.3.1 The offender must clearly understand the offence put to them and fully accept responsibility for committing the offence, with no lawful defences or mitigation raised before the administration of a community resolution can be considered. The officer must ensure the offender understands the effect their behaviour has had on others.
3.3.2 The offender must be capable of understanding, be fully aware of the process for Community Resolutions, understand the implications of accepting responsibility for the offence and agree to the outcome.
3.3.3 The acceptance of responsibility does not need to be recorded in a PACE compliant interview. The acceptance of responsibility should be recorded in the relevant section of the 1912 and, where practicable, captured via BWV and/or EPNB.
3.4.1 The officer must obtain the consent of the offender to engage in the community resolution process and this fully recorded on the 1912.
3.4.2 This approach may be used for an offender of any age, except those below the age of criminal responsibility. In the case of those under the age of 18 years engaging in a community resolution, officers will take and document all reasonable steps to contact parents/guardians prior to the resolution being delivered.
3.4.4 In cases where this is not appropriate, a parent/guardian will be informed of the resolution at the earliest opportunity and, in any case, within 24 hours and this contact will be documented by the officer or staff member making contact. In cases where the appropriate adult is also the victim every effort must be made to include another suitable person to fulfil the function of appropriate adult. Where this is not possible the community resolution may continue but officers should consider the welfare and interests of the young person involved.
3.4.5 Where the offender is considered to be vulnerable then consideration must be given to ensuring they have the capacity to understand the CR process. Where appropriate, any medical professional who supports the assessment of capacity must be recorded upon the 1912 and a Sergeant’s authority obtained.
3.5. Offending History
3.5.1 Community Resolutions are for low level offending and where the offender has no or limited previous sanctions. Where an offender does have previous convictions or outcomes, a Community Resolution can still be considered if it is deemed the appropriate outcome. The relevance of the offending history (patterns of like offences) and how recent offending has been committed (not usually within 12 months unless exceptional circumstances).
3.5.2 Where it is felt a Community Resolution is appropriate where the offender has a previous offending history the officer must obtain authorisation from a Sergeant and the full rationale must be recorded on the investigation.
4.1.1 The officer must ensure the offender understands that the community resolution may be disclosed as part of an enhanced Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) check. Any disclosure at enhanced level would depend on the nature and circumstances of the individual check. Ordinarily a low-level offence such as a minor theft (e.g. shoplifting) would not be disclosed on an enhanced DBS check. Officers should not however provide any assurances of this.
4.2.1. All of the following criteria will need to be present for the community resolution to be administered without authorisation:
The administering officer is trained to level 1 restorative practice;
The offender has not received any previous sanctions;
There is an identifiable victim who has had the opportunity to provide their view and considers this as an appropriate method of resolution;
The circumstances and severity of the offence are not such that it should result in a court prosecution;
The victim(s) has an opportunity to express their views to the offender;
4.2.2 If any of the above criteria is not met then authorisation from the rank of sergeant or above is required (please note the differing levels of authorisation for DA, sexual offences, knife crime, hate crime, traffic and where the victim does not consent). Where the offender is a juvenile (U/18) the authority must be sought from the Youth Justice Team Supervisor.
4.3 Victim Consultation
4.3.1 The force adopts a restorative approach to the delivery of community resolutions; this approach should be utilised wherever possible in order to achieve the best possible outcome for the victim.
4.3.2 The victim MUST be consulted and their consent sought and the officer must ensure the victim has their questions about the offence answered. Only in exceptional cases it may be appropriate to consider a Community Resolution without victim consent, or in the absence of an identifiable victim (such as drugs or public order offences). In circumstances when the victim consent is not secured the officer must seek agreement from an Inspector and a full rationale for the decision must be recorded.
Where the victim is the ‘state’ (drugs or public order offences), officers should consider who may have been affected by the offence, i.e. a parent or local resident to fulfil the role of the harmed person in a restorative process. If such a person cannot be identified then a Community Resolution can still be used.
4.3.3 When a Community Resolution is to be used, the officer must make every possible effort to obtain the views of the victim as to whether the offender should carry out any conditions.
If the officer considers that the action chosen by the victim is appropriate, the offender should be asked to carry out that action (the officer should ask the offender if the action is within their capability to fulfil). The police officer will have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the action offered to the offender is appropriate and proportionate to the offence.
4.3.4 The officer must clearly explain to the victim that any agreed outcomes are voluntary and that the police are not able to enforce non-compliance with the offender, if the offender does not comply there is no recourse. The officer must also clearly explain to the offender that they will be named on the crime report.
4.3.5 When considering a Community Resolution the officer should consider the most appropriate way to involve the victim. It is the responsibility of the officer to maintain contact with the victim, offender and other parties including witnesses and appropriate adults throughout the duration of the process.
Contact will be made by the officer to the victim, immediately after the delivery of the resolution. The officer will also make contact with the victim on conclusion of any outcomes agreed by the process. If the victim is not contactable or if it cannot be ascertained who the victim is then the officer will choose an appropriate action for the offender to undertake.
4.4.1 Outcomes should be focused on making good the harm caused to the victim, in accordance with their wishes and of others affected by the offending behaviour. Outcomes should also consider what has the most potential to rehabilitate the offender and prevent the committing of further crime. When considering outcomes, the officer must consider the safety of those involved and their duty of care.
4.4.2 Community Remedy has been introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The act places a duty on The Police and Crime Commissioner to consult with members of the public and community representatives on what punitive, reparative or rehabilitative actions they would consider appropriate to be on the Community Remedy document. The Community Remedy document is a list of actions which the victim may choose from, for the offender to undertake as a part of the Community Resolution as a consequence of their behaviour or offending.
4.4.3 It is essential that officers set realistic, appropriate, proportionate actions and timescales when formulating a CR agreement. Outcomes can be instant (such as an apology or reparation) or deferred, as agreed by the parties and can be completed at a later date.
4.4.4 If outcomes are not instant they should be given a proportionate timescale for the offender to complete and should not exceed 16 weeks from date of offence.
Potential actions to consider:
Financial Compensation (payment of cost of damage or replacement of property)
Reparation (repair of damage to victim’s property or work in the community)
Parenting Contract (voluntary agreement signed by the offenders parent/carer/guardian outlining expected behaviour
Informal restorative intervention (facilitated process between the victim and offender to discuss the harm caused)
4.4.4 Any resolution may be delivered there and then or scheduled for a later time. If the Community Resolution is being used with Restorative Justice (face to face or indirect communication) and cannot be dealt with instantly, or it requires more preparation/risk assessment, this will need to be referred to the Restorative Justice Officer. The decision as to the most appropriate method of delivery will be for the investigating officer and made with consideration to the facts of the incident and the needs.
4.4.5 It is important that actions are monitored and those involved are kept informed even when the agreement has not been adhered to. The responsibility for this will remain with the OIC.
4.5.1 Where a reported offence is fully investigated and resolved using a Community Resolution the officer in the case will input the information into the 1912. This will be offered to all parties for signature. On completion this will be quality assured by the officer’s supervisor and signed accordingly. The offender may request a copy of this. The victim may request the outcome details in writing from the officer in the case if they wish.
4.5.2 Where a Community Resolution is achieved within an investigation already in existence, a Community Resolution record (form 1912) will be completed as above. The form should then be scanned and attached to the investigation by the officer, recorded within the actions on Athena (please refer to Athena guidance) and tasked to IMU to quality assure.
4.5.3 A restorative process will only be considered to have been used when the checklist on the 1912 form, submitted by the officer, confirms that all of the following criteria have been met:
The offender accepted responsibility for their actions;
The offender understood the effect the behaviour has had on others;
The victim(s) had an opportunity to share their views with the offender;
The victim(s) have had their questions about the offence answered.
4.5.4 All Community Resolutions will be subject of a quality assurance check by the duty IMU Investigative Standards Team. Where there is a clear failure to demonstrate compliance to this SOP it will result in rejection and return to the OIC and supervisor for reparative action.
4.6.1. When an offender fails to complete their agreed actions it will not be possible to then offer an alternative sanction such as caution – victims must be made aware of this before agreeing to this resolution.
5. Equality Impact Assessment
5.1 An Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out and shows the proposals in this policy would have no potential or actual differential impact on grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, transgender, disability, age, religion or belief or sexual orientation.
6. Risk Assessment
6.1 This SOP has been assessed as medium risk.
8. Monitoring and Review
8.1 Monitoring and review of SOP will be completed by the Victim Justice Department. Regular reviews will be completed and as required in response to changes to legislation and/or national guidance.
8.2 This SOP will be reviewed annually with the next review scheduled for May 2022.
9.1. Kent Police have measures in place to protect the security of your data in accordance with our Information Management Policy.
10. Retention and Disposal of Records
10.1 Kent Police will hold data in accordance with our Records Review, Retention and Disposal Policy.
11. Other Source Documents
11.1. If you require any further information or to request any documentation referenced within the policy please contact [email protected] For general enquiries you can find contact details for Kent Police on the website https://www.kent.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/.