Owl says wonder why this came from a Somerset newspaper, not a Devon or Cornwall one!
“First time criminals may be able to avoid a police record under a new initiative from Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner aimed at preventing reoffending.
Alison Hernandez said Devon and Cornwall Police will be introducing the GPS Pathfinder scheme to challenge and change the behaviour of first time offenders, who sign up to the programme and fully comply with it.
She denied that the deferred charging scheme is soft on criminals, and said it is in fact more onerous than existing punishment for most first time offenders.
The three year pilot scheme will launch in June, and will work in the following way:
After arrest for a low-level offence a first time offender will be taken into custody. A decision will then be taken about their suitability for the deferred charge scheme, but only after consultation with the victim and their approval.
If the offender accepts the offer they will meet a key worker within 24 hours who will draw up a contract which will be binding for four months.
This contract will require the offender to commit to no reoffending during the course of the contract, a restorative justice programme, accepting support or help from outside agencies, and 18 to 36 hours voluntary work within the community.
Compliance with the contract means there will be no criminal conviction, although it will still appear on an enhanced DBS check.
Any offender who does not agree to enter the GPS Pathfinder scheme or fails to adhere to the terms of the contract will be taken back to court.
Ms Hernandez said: “Pathfinder is not a soft option, and it will be harder to complete than all of the current out of court disposals currently available.
“Together with the chief constable we fully support this ground breaking approach to prevention. Intervening early in the offending cycle to change offenders’ behaviour reduces the chances of them reoffending. It invests in early help services for young people, their families and those at risk of offending in the future due to their circumstances.
“During our consultation with the public last year they told us very clearly that crime prevention and reducing offending rates was very important. By doing this we will reduce the number of victims.
“Pathfinder does just that. It has victims at its heart.”
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer added: “Pathfinder is a mature option to resolving the needs of the victim but also affords the opportunity for the offender to come to terms with their behaviour, impact and engage in addressing their lifestyle and decision making drawing them to offend.
“There is considerable evidence to support that this approach reduces future offending. In turn this reduces the number of victims and prevents the cycle of offending for the offender who often passes on their behaviours to the next generation.”