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Community Resolution Orders

Volume 563: debated on Tuesday 4 June 2013

2. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the use of community resolution orders to reduce offending. (157228)

Yes, it is in here somewhere.

None. [Laughter.] No—there is a bit more: the Crown Prosecution Service is not involved in the use of community resolutions, which are out-of-court disposals that enable a police officer to deal proportionately with appropriate offences in a timely and transparent manner.

I must say that the initial answer was the shortest that I have ever heard, especially from a lawyer.

There is real concern that the orders are being used increasingly to resolve—or supposedly resolve—domestic violence incidents. In 2012, nearly 2,500 of the orders were issued rather than cases being put before the CPS for possible prosecution. Does the Minister share my concern that the orders may be being used as an easy disposal, rather than taking domestic violence seriously?

The point to make is that the decisions are made by officers at the time. They are not orders, but decisions made when there has perhaps been an apology or some reparation. In cases of domestic violence, that would be inappropriate. The guidance is that the resolutions should not be used for such cases. Obviously, I will mention the matter to the Home Office, which is the place to direct the question.

I declare an interest as a special constable. Presumably, the Solicitor-General should be interested in liaising with the Home Office about the most serious offence that a police officer could deal with under a community resolution order, rather than its going through the justice system. Will he assure the House that he will establish that threshold with the Home Department?

As my hon. Friend will know from his background in the special constabulary, community resolutions are designed for dealing with low-level matters, when the person involved does not have previous convictions and it is possible to reach an agreement between the parties. Clearly, any serious offence should be dealt with in a different way.