More than 10,000 violent criminals escaped conviction in England and Wales last year after 'saying sorry'

Offenders instead dealt with by 'community relations'

More than 10,000 people who committed a serious violent crime last year were let off without a formal conviction, new figures show.

The offenders were instead dealt with by 'community resolutions', which range from apologies to offers of compensation.

The figures are based on Freedom of Information requests obtained from police forces in England and Wales by the Labour party.

According to the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), community resolutions should only be used to deal with low level crime or anti-social behaviour and do not lead to a criminal record.

The punishment was introduced as a quicker way of dealing with less serious crime.

But in 2012, 10,160 were handed to criminals who committed serious violent crime - making up nearly 14 per cent in some police forces - as well as to 2,488 who committed domestic violence.

The number of community resolutions being issued in cases of violent crime has risen from 7,621 in 2010 to 8,523 in 2011.

However, the new figures show the largest increase was from 792 in 2008 to 5,173 in 2009.

Yvette Cooper MP, shadow home secretary, claims that police cuts have lead to the rise in the use of community resolutions, with officers now under more pressure with less resources.

"These figures are extremely serious," she said.

"There has been a massive increase in the number of serious and violent crimes dealt with just by community resolution ever since the police cuts started - breaking all the 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."

A Home Office spokesman said: "Crime continues to fall - recorded crime is down by more than 10% under this Government and the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales shows crime is at its lowest level since records began.

"It is the responsibility of Chief Constables to ensure that community resolutions are used appropriately. Through crime maps and Police and Crime Commissioners, the public now have the means to hold them to account."

The Association of Chief Police Officers defended the use of restorative justice and community resolutions.

Greater Manchester assistant chief constable Garry Shewan, who speaks for Acpo on the subject, said: "Community resolutions, including restorative justice, offer clear benefits to both victim and offender, and give police flexibility to deal with a variety of offences effectively.

"Guidelines are in place to help forces decide where the use of community resolutions might be appropriate, but in every case, this decision will be victim led and above all reflect their views and wishes.

"While in the main they are used to deal with less serious offences, there is no simple formula.

"At times it may be necessary, and appropriate, to use such informal resolutions to deal with more serious cases. In such circumstances, it is far more than likely there will be a restorative justice element to the resolution.

"Many victims of crime tell us that they feel the criminal justice system and courts take over and they are left out, but meeting the offender can bring a degree of closure and help them to move on with their lives.

"Going through a restorative justice meeting has also been proven to have more impact on an offender than a prison sentence or a court punishment alone, as they see the consequences of their actions and so want to make changes in their future behaviour.

"In each force where restorative justice is offered to victims, specially trained officers will work hard with victims of crime to offer a resolution to their case that they are satisfied with.

"This will involve carefully assessing the specific circumstances, taking into account the relationship between victim and offender, and crucially, the vulnerabilities of the victim.

"We are clear that these cases should be judged upon their outcomes, not only for the victim, but the offender and wider community."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)