THE majority of crimes investigated in the North East and North Yorkshire will never reach a courtroom, shocking new figures suggest.

Fewer than one in ten investigations closed by police forces across the region result in a charge or summons, The Northern Echo can today reveal.

Nearly half of the cases wrapped up by the force between April and December last year were dropped due to difficulties gathering evidence – and in more than 68,000 cases, victims withdrew their support for the investigation.

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Victim Support has warned people are losing faith in the criminal justice system in light of stark Home Office statistics which show just seven percent of crimes closed by forces across England and Wales in that time resulted in a charge or summons to court.

The charge rate in the North East and North Yorkshire is slightly higher - but 92 percent of the 215,000 investigations closed during that period never made it to court.

Echo analysis also found a significant disparity between offences, with two in five weapons possession offences and more than a quarter of drugs offences resulting in a charge or summons compared to just eight per cent of sex offences.

Complex investigations, legislative changes, the timeliness of complaints and the impact that can have on forensic evidence are among factors that can influence whether a case reaches court.

But spokespeople for the region's forces said an investigation should not be judged simply on whether it leads to a courtroom or not.

Highlighting alternative outcomes like restorative justice, cautions and community resolutions, they said disposals used would be those most appropriate to the individual crime and suspect.

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Leanne McConnell, head of criminal justice at North Yorkshire Police, added: “Outcomes range from informal to more formal and victim satisfaction does not always come as a result of a ‘charge to court’.

“A number of our out of court disposals have restorative or reparative elements to them and these can be a good restoration for a victim and a method that is more effective in helping them recover from the impact of crime.”

A Durham Constabulary spokeswoman added: “We do not believe that the success of an investigation should be judged on a binary choice of whether it leads to a charge or not.”

However, Lee Evans from Victim Support said victims could be negatively impacted by a failure to put cases before the courts.

He said issues including lengthy inquiries and sometimes poor communication from authorities could lead to people feeling like their cases were not being taken seriously enough – and could contribute to some withdrawing their support for investigations.

A third of the cases closed in the North East were affected by a victim dropping their support.

Ms McConnell said a range of victim support is available in North Yorkshire and that a new role within the force’s witness care unit would “provide an increased capability to focus on the needs of vulnerable or intimidated victims”.

Mr Evans called for victims to be well supported throughout their experiences with the criminal justice system.

He added: “When cases fail to reach court, victims can start to lose faith in the criminal justice system, which why it’s vital that they receive support from services like ours throughout the entire process.”


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