OFFENDERS who have committed violent and sexual crimes have avoided court by saying sorry to their victims.

Figures obtained by the Echo show that 318 people who carried out violent crimes and three who committed sexual offences were dealt with by ‘community resolution’ in just over a year.

It was also used in drug cases as well as possession of weapon incidents, including a firearm.

Community resolution is supposed to be used to resolve ‘minor’ offences and means the offender avoids the criminal justice system by completing a course of action agreed by their victim.

But police forces across the country have come under fire for its use in recent times.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has warned community resolution should be used only for ‘less serious’ offences, but has been found, as in Dorset, to have been used in sex, violence and firearms cases.

Dorset Police has admitted there is a cost saving in using community resolution – it’s almost seven times cheaper than taking an offender into custody, not including CPS costs.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill refused to comment on the situation.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has labelled the number of cases in which community resolution is used ‘extremely serious’.

She added: “There has been a massive increase in the number of serious and violent crimes dealt with just by community resolution since the police cuts started – breaking expert guidance and promises from ministers.

“Offenders who admit to serious and violent crimes – including knife crime, domestic violence, and serious assault – are increasingly being let off with no criminal record, no justice, and not even a caution. That’s bad for justice, bad for victims, and goes against all the evidence.”

There were 1,071 community resolution orders handed out in Dorset between January 2013 and February this year.

A police spokesman said: “Dorset Police is determined to ensure the right outcome is delivered and that a professional service is provided at all times, that meets the needs of the victim.

“To ensure community resolutions are proportionate and appropriate when used as an option for an out of court disposal, we have implemented an external scrutiny process. “This takes the form of a multi-agency panel, which provides reassurance to the force and the public, that the decisions to use community resolution are made in a sound, ethical manner which supports the needs of the victim and helps maintain public confidence.

“The emphasis is on providing a ‘victim focused’ resolution.

“Police officers are able to deliver a proportionate response to victims needs in an efficient, professional manner and the courts are more able to focus their time on dealing with serious offenders so as to protect the public.”

Dorset Police recently celebrated a rise in ‘positive outcomes’ for victims of crime. Community resolution is classed as a positive outcome. n HAVE you been a victim of a crime that has been dealt with by community resolution? Get in touch.