Bar Council warns against rising use of 'get out of jail free cards' to avoid courts
Responding to the latest quarterly criminal justice statistics, which show decrease in the number of prosecutions, but a worrying 16% increase in the use of community resolution orders, Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said: “Greater reliance on community resolutions for more serious offences can send the wrong message to the public and victims of crime – that this is a ‘get out of jail free card’. Whilst out of court disposals can be effective in reducing reoffending for minor offences, they must not be seen simply as an alternative to court, especially for sex offences or other serious crimes. Criminals must be dealt with in a manner that reflects the seriousness of their offending, otherwise, the public will lose confidence in the criminal justice system.
“With the current backlog in the criminal courts there is a risk that out of court measures will be seen as a way to relieve pressure on the system. But public confidence will only be maintained by long-term investment, including more court staff and enough courts to hear cases ”