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Olympic criminals to be fast-tracked
Anyone who commits a crime during the sailing events will be put before he courts swiftly in a zero tolerance appoach, the Crown Prosecution Service and Dorset Police say.
Weymouth Magistrates Court will start proceedings an hour earlier than usual at 9am and prosecutors will be on call 24 hours a day to assist with offenders.
Nick Hawkins, chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex, said priority will be given to Olympics offences and those cases involving visitors to Weymouth.
He said: “As CPS lead on maritime matters, I will be immediately available to deal with incidents on the water and my deputy chief crown prosecutor Kate Brown will oversee all prosecutions for offences on land.
“The CPS is fully linked into Dorset Police’s planning for the Olympics and will be able to respond to any requests for assistance.
“We do not anticipate an increase in crime during the Olympics, based on previous experience in Sydney and Athens.”
Offenders who are alleged to have committed crimes will be assessed under a defined ‘Olympics offence’ criteria, dependent on whether it happened during the Games, at a venue or involved an athlete, spectator or official.
A Dorset Police spokesman said plans are in place to fast-track foreign nationals who commit crime when visiting the borough.
She added: “If you bail a foreign national they can go back to their home country and then there are the logistics of getting them back here.
“Sometimes bringing an offender to justice, if they are bailed, can take two months.”
The plans will apply to all areas where Olympic events are taking place and also include other Olympic sites in the UK.
They have been drawn up by the CPS, with contributions from the police, courts and victim groups.
Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, said: “Many people who come to the Olympics won’t live here, so it is important that if offences are committed we act quickly. We are learning the lessons of the summer riots.”
The new measures are understood to target lower level offences such as mugging, pick-pocketing and ticket touting.
Ms Saunders added that it is not possible to predict whether overall crime rates would rise or fall during the Games.
Jeff Gardner, Victim Support’s locality director for London, said: “Victim Support has been involved in the criminal justice systems planning for the Olympics from the outset.
“Contingency plans to bring offenders to court within 24 hours for crimes linked to the Olympics are welcomed by Victim Support as we know that victims and witnesses of crime appreciate swift and fair justice.”
The timescale for offences committed as ‘Olympics offences’ will run until September 30.