Fitting Punishments For Minor Crimes?

13 May 2011, 06:00

The Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police believes people who commit petty, minor crimes shouldn't necessarily end up in court.

Simon Parr [pictured - right] says some offenders should instead be given punishments fitting their crimes.

For example, a 16 year old shoplifter who stole £3 worth of goods from a supermarket, was recently made to clean 100 shopping baskets at the store where he committed the crime.

Also, a 20 year old who stole £15 worth of goods from a store was punished by being made to sweep the aisles of the shop for an hour.

A 12 year old who damaged a car was also made to apologise to the vehicle's owner, and his parents agree to pay for the damage.

None of them was taken to court or prosecuted.

It's part of a process Mr Parr calls "restorative justice".

The Cambridgeshire Chief Constable said: "On some very very minor offences like minor dishonesty, minor damage and push and shove assaults, I think we need to take a very careful view of if that's the sort of person that needs to be going all the way to court and ending up with a criminal record."

The punishments are only given with the express written permission of the victim of the crime.

Mr Parr continued: "Victims say 'I don't want the person getting into trouble, I just want them stopped or I want something done abut it', but they don't really want to end up giving a teenager a criminal record for something that's relatively minor."

The process, which has been used on 65 occasions since February, also saves Cambridgeshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service time and money.

Around 800 members of Cambridgeshire Police are now fully trained in the use of this "restorative justice".