POLICE forces in the North-East issued out of court disposals for crimes including rape, drugs trafficking and child abuse.

A joint investigation between The Northern Echo and the BBC’s Shared Data Unit found that officers in the region had resolved thousands of offences with community resolutions.

The disposals, which do not appear on a criminal record and are not convictions, are intended for use with minor offences.

However, figures for the region show that they have been used for offences that could otherwise have attracted a jail sentence.

Here’s what our police forces had to say on the issue:


Analysis of crime outcomes data found that Durham’s officers were more likely to use community resolutions than any other force in the country between 2014 and 2018, with 8 per cent of all their crimes being resolved with the disposals, compared to 3 per cent nationwide.

Durham issued 12,992 community resolutions for 171,952 outcomes recorded in the period analysed.

Officers used the disposals to tackle offences including rape, sexual grooming, perverting the course of justice, possession of firearms with intent and dangerous driving.

They are responsible for 105 out of the 116 issued in the region for cruelty to children, 19 out of 21 stalking cases and 21 out of 27 instances of aggravated vehicle taking.

The force’s new chief constable, Jo Farrell, said: “We use Community Resolution as an outcome because it is the most appropriate option and, perhaps more importantly, because it works.

“A large part of the reason that Durham has achieved successive outstanding ratings in the annual Peel inspections is our “problem-orientated policing” ethos.

“Durham is also nationally recognised as having one of the most effective approaches to Crime Data Integrity in the country, which means we correctly record almost every crime, regardless of how trivial it may seem to others.

“We do this because of our commitment to victims: we put victims first at all stages of the criminal investigation.

“If an incident is correctly recorded as a crime from the start, it means we are able to give the victim the help they deserve and ensure that safeguarding takes place: we can also offer the perpetrator help to address the underlying cause of their offending.

“In many cases we believe that we can better support the victims and resolve the underlying problems by facilitating a resolution between the parties.

“Before using a Community Resolution, the previous offending behaviour of the offender, the severity of the offence, along with the wishes of the victim, must be considered.

“We recognise that as a force we are a high user of Community Resolution and because of this we use quality assurance methods to ensure that at all times, we have done the right thing for the victim.”

The force also provided a random selection of offences resolved with a community resolution, including cases of sexual activity between children, one that saw a 20-year-old man issued with one following a sex act with a 15-year-old and two cases involving knife crime – one issued because a man had inadvertently taken a knife he was using on his allotment into court with him and the other concerning an offender who was told to complete the Checkpoint programme after being found carrying a large machete in a holdall in a town centre.


In North Yorkshire, community resolutions were used to tackle around one in five drugs crimes in the period analysed.

The force was third in the country when comparing how often the disposals were used as a percentage of overall crime outcomes, issuing 7,425 for 195,420 crime outcomes.

Figures show 35 drugs trafficking offences were handled with community resolution in North Yorkshire.

Leanne McConnell, the force’s Head of Criminal Justice, said decision making around the disposals was scrutinised by an independently chaired panel involving members of the public and other partners from the criminal justice system.

She said the panel's latest report was positive but acknowledges some improvements could be made, adding: “There are several factors that are applied when considering if a community resolution is a suitable disposal, including the offender’s criminal history, the views of the victim, the gravity of the offence, which is determined by a national decision making matrix, and any particular circumstances that are unique to every case.

"The aim is to divert offenders away from the criminal justice system and provide an effective and efficient resolution that helps to free up resources to enable public services to focus on more serious offending.

"There is also growing evidence that early intervention and diversion can be highly effective at preventing reoffending and increasing victim satisfaction.

“They are also effective at preventing the disproportionate criminalisation of first-time offenders or young people, which can significantly impact on their future prospects and potential for re-offending.

“In terms of sexual assaults that are resolved through this process, although headlines may sensationalise this aspect, in reality they are lower-level offences, often involving child perpetrators, people with learning difficulties or consensual relationships between teenagers, and in many cases, a specific desire by the victims and their family for the perpetrator not to be put through the criminal justice system.

"Our policy is to always seek the views of the victim when considering such a disposal.

“A criminal conviction or out-of-court disposal should not be viewed in isolation. Once a crime or incident is reported, there are many processes that can come into play, from safeguarding measures, support, advice, diversion, and signposting to other services such as counselling.”


Officers in Northumbria recorded community resolutions for 3 per cent of their crime outcomes between 2014 and 2018, in line with the national average.

The force used them for one case of child abduction, six counts of blackmail and 11 of endangering life.

Superintendent Dave Willett, Head of Prosecution and Victims Services, said: “Community resolutions are only used for low-level offences and when the victim supports its use. They would not be used when victims are vulnerable, or if the crime has been committed by a repeat offender.

“If a community resolution is the best form of disposal for both sides then it can be a positive outcome for all involved.”

Supt Willett added: “Community resolutions could still be used to deal with some violent incidents, for example, when two friends have been involved in an altercation and an assault has taken place. In this instance, the victim may not want a criminal prosecution and so a community resolution can be a positive solution.

“The use of community resolutions for offences of sexual activity with a child is also very rare but may be used when those involved are both children and a criminal prosecution would not be in the public interest.

“Any use of community resolutions in these circumstances would be with the full support of both the victim and the offender where there were no existing concerns around safeguarding.”


Figures for Cleveland Police show that the force has among the lowest rates of community resolution use in the country and has issued 3,616 for 195,420 offences.

Three were issued for arson endangering life, three for drugs trafficking and one for perverting the course of justice.