South Yorkshire Police defends use of 78 'community resolutions' for sex offenders

abuse survivor posed by model
Image posed by model. Credit: PA

A police force has defended its use of so-called "community resolutions" to deal with dozens of sex offenders – instead of prosecuting them.

South Yorkshire Police was responding to an article in a national newspaper which said it used the resolutions on 78 occasions over a two year period – the highest number in the country.

Offenders must admit their crime to be given a community resolution. They may be asked to apologise to their victim, promise not to repeat their offending or attend a course. They do not receive further punishment or get a criminal record.

Community resolutions are frequently used by police to deal with relatively low-level offending, including drug possession, theft and criminal damage.

But different police forces apply different policies on their use.

According to the Mirror newspaper, police nationally used community resolutions 870 times to deal with sex offences, including rape.

Speaking to the newspaper, sexual abuse survivor and campaigner Sammy Woodhouse, from Rotherham, said: "I am furious. It is just insane. Why on earth would you allow a sex offender to say sorry and not be criminalise?

Sammy Woodhouse, a survivor of child sexual exploitation Credit: ITV News

"I think it’s fine to use this scheme for something like shoplifting. But I am struggling to find words on how I feel about it being used for rapists."

South Yorkshire Police said none of the 78 community resolutions it had handed out in the two-year period was in relation to a rape allegation.

'An effective, efficient and proportionate resolution'

A spokesperson said: "When considering a community resolution as a possible outcome for sexual offences we take into account several factors. This includes but is not limited to the nature of the offence and the victim’s wishes.  

"We treat all reports of sexual assaults seriously, but on occasion community resolution is an opportunity to divert offenders away from the criminal justice system and provide an effective, efficient and proportionate resolution.

"There is also growing evidence that early intervention and diversion can be highly effective at preventing reoffending and increasing victim satisfaction."

The force said the process could be effective in cases involving child perpetrators, people with specific needs or learning difficulties or consensual relationships between teenagers.

"In many cases, there is a specific desire by the victims and their family for the perpetrator not to be put through the criminal justice system," the spokesperson said.

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