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Public Attitudes to Alternatives to Prosecution

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has made the following written ministerial statement:

“I am today arranging for the publication of research commissioned by the Office of Criminal Justice Reform from IPSOS MORI on public attitudes to alternatives to prosecution.

The research, conducted during March 2006, involved interviews with 1,027 people aged 15 and over in England and Wales and four focus groups. There were also six focus groups with victims and witnesses to test their views of out of court penalties for adults and youths. The research was commissioned as part of a review of out of court penalties which I have been leading.

Whilst the research has been available to criminal justice practitioners since last June, we are now putting it into the public domain because of the general interest in its existence. The findings show that:

Nine out of 10 participants think that first time minor criminal offences need not necessarily be dealt with by the courts;

Half of those participants think a caution or reprimand would be the most appropriate disposal;

Six out of 10 participants think that second minor offences (that this is after a FPN or warning has been given) could be dealt with out of the courts;

A quarter of participants think the best way to deal with second minor offences is by a caution with conditions attached, such as compensation or making amends;

A 44 per cent. majority of participants felt the most appropriate way to deal with offenders who own up to minor offences was for them to make amends to the victim, for example by compensation or an apology.

I am placing copies of the material in the Libraries of both Houses.”