Since April this year, officers have implemented nearly 7,000 ‘community resolutions’ across the West Midlands to deal with lower level offences like low value criminal damage and disorder.
Victims tell us that they prefer a faster and more effective solution to their complaint rather than taking the matter to court, and community resolutions allow us to do that.
They put the needs of the victim first – they are asked what outcome they would like to see, so they become part of the solution. This could include a simple apology, an offer of compensation or a promise to clear up any graffiti or criminal damage.
If the victim talks to police and agrees a course of action they are happy with – and if the offender agrees with the plan – there is no need for further criminal action.
Resolutions cover many ‘lower level’ offences that can cause greatest concern to communities such as criminal damage, minor cases of assault, theft and public disorder.
There have been many excellent examples of community resolutions carried out across the force, providing a ‘common sense’ solution to low level offences like graffiti, minor criminal damage and even dog theft.
Follow the links below to read about some of the successes:
A TAXI driver attacked in the street in a row over a £5 fare won justice thanks to the new scheme.
Father-of-five Abdi Hersi had dropped off passengers in Hurst Street when he was attacked by one of them, who kicked his cab causing hundreds of pounds of damage.
The drunken attacker then fled with the mobile phone Mr Hersi had used to call police. When officers arrived outside the Dragon Inn they found the attacker’s wife and friends, who handed over his details.
The attacker, in his 40s, was a highly respected worker in the city’s restaurant scene. When police questioned him he admitted he was drunk , was “mortified” at his behaviour and was prepared to pay compensation to his victim.That meant it was a perfect fit for the new Community Resolutions scheme being launched by West Midlands Police.
The initiative, designed to cut bureaucracy, will let officers deal with low level crime through mediation between victims and offenders.Neighbourhood officers will be encouraged to assess crimes on whether a workable solution is the best option instead of lengthy and expensive court proceedings.
PC Mark Roberts, the Digbeth sector officer who dealt with Mr Hersi’s case, said: “By going down this route we ended up with a situation where he was far happier. “Mr Hersi’s attacker didn’t want to be criminalised for what was a moment of madness and was happy to pay for the repairs to the taxi.”He added: “We assessed the offence to see whether it met the criteria for Community Resolution and although they never met, both men were happy with the outcome.”
Mr Hersi, aged 42, from Northfields, said the traditional way of dealing with the incident would have hit him in the pocket in lost earnings as well as the £582 repair bill. “I have a family to look after and every minute I can’t work means I am losing money,” said the private hire driver of six years. “If it had gone to court it would have meant a lot of paperwork for the police and I might not have got any compensation because my attacker’s attitude might have been different. “This way is a common sense solution and one I hope the police use wherever they can.” Mr Hersi was unhurt in the attack, but was left badly shaken. He said: “For a week or so afterwards I wondered whether every person I let in the taxi was dangerous.
“It shook me up but because it was resolved quickly I felt I could get on with my life. It’s nice to know that the man who did it accepts he was wrong and has showed that by paying for his mistake. That shows he is a decent human being after all.” The resolution proved so successful the outcome of Mr Hersi’s case was filmed for use as best practice in educational DVDs by the Home Office and the NPIA.
WHEN pensioner Tom Chatwin went to play with his dog and found her missing from his front garden, he feared the worst.
The 65-year-old thought he had become a victim of dog-nappers or that his beloved Shitzu Issy had escaped and been run over.
After checking with friends and scouring the area near his Tipton home, neighbours forced him to sit tight, have a cup of tea and call the police.
“I could hardly breathe and I had shooting pains in my chest because I was in such a state from all the running around,” he said.
Two West Midlands Police officers were on the scene and launched a search of the area to no avail.
But the following day the officers returned and asked Tom for a picture of his 14-month-old pet.
He said: “They were brilliant. They asked where Issy had been when she went missing, when she disappeared and whether I had a picture of her.
“I gave them a picture and one of the officers said ‘Tom, I’ll be back with your dog in a tick’. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was.”
The officers had found Issy at a nearby house where a 16-year-old girl had kept her overnight after taking her from Tom’s garden.
The teenager told police she took Issy because she thought the pup was being neglected.
When she was being told how upset Tom was and that the dog was his only companion, she was upset and and agreed to apologise in person.
Officers drove her to the man’s home, where she apologised and explained why she had taken the dog. The man was very understanding and accepted her apology.
Normally her actions would have ended with prosecution and an appearance in court charged with theft, but officers decided community resolution was the best way forward.
Instead the girl offered to take the dog for walks and often drops treats and goodies off for her as she passes Tom’s garden.
Tom said: “The last thing I wanted was to have to go to court as a witness and I am sure she didn’t want that either.
“The whole thing was sorted out quickly and without any fuss. In the end everyone was happy and it hasn’t cost a fortune to sort it out. It just seems like a lot more common sense way of dealing with things.”
PC Allan Dent said: “We were pleased this incident was resolved amicably and to the benefit of both parties. It immediately became clear when we visited the girl that she was sorry for her actions, and once this was explained to the victim he was very understanding.
“Victims constantly tell us they would prefer a faster and more effective solution to their complaint rather than taking the matter to court, and community resolutions allow us to do that.
“All parties are now extremely happy with the resolution, and everybody is reaping the benefits – especially the dog!”
A REVEREND whose church was damaged by a stone-throwing schoolboy has praised the police’s decision not to prosecute the youngster.
The 10-year-old shattered several windows at Stoke’s St Anne & All Saints Church in what was described as a “totally out of character” outburst. The boy, who once gave a bible reading at the Acacia Road chapel during a school service, has never previously been in trouble.
After receiving a personal apology from the embarrassed local lad, Rev Philip Bullock was happy for the incident to be dealt with by a community resolution – and a week later supervised the boy as he carried out litter picking duties in the church grounds.
Rev Bullock, who joined St Anne’s 18-months ago after turning his back on a career as an international hotel inspector, said: “I didn’t want to see such a young boy stigmatised with a police record for what was a one-off rush of blood. He was genuinely remorseful, and his mother shocked by her son’s behaviour.
“We all do silly things occasionally; I just wanted the chance to explain to him the consequences of his actions – the windows are expensive to replace and our congregation will be cold until the repairs are carried out!
“Between us we agreed he would serve his punishment by spending time helping to clean up the church grounds; I wanted him to give something back to the parish.”
But although an advocate of West Midlands Police’s community resolution scheme, Rev Bullock said it was only the apologetic nature of both the boy and his family that persuaded him to avoid a more formal, traditional course of police action.
He added: “If the boy hadn’t shown any remorse, or appeared unconcerned by his actions, then I wouldn’t have been convinced a community resolution was appropriate. All decisions must be based on individual circumstances.”
A TEENAGER who smashed the wing mirrors of cars after a drunken night out with mates saw his career in the Royal Navy disappearing before his eyes.
The youngster kicked out at three car mirrors in a moment of madness, but was quickly identified by witnesses.
Police spoke to him about the attacks in Corporation Street, Wednesbury, and warned him that he could face a criminal record if found guilty of criminal damage.
That would have left his chances of a career on the sea in tatters.
The 17-year-old initially denied the offences but when his two friends stated that he alone was responsible, he came clean.
An officer explained the resolution procedure to him and his mother, who was in total agreement.
The youngster agreed to pay the £300 bill for replacing the wing mirrors with money he had spent months saving to buy equipment for the Navy. His mother handed over the cash to the police who in turn passed it on to the relieved victims.
Insp Akeel Najib said: “The boy was hoping to join the Navy and did not want a criminal record as that would have severely hindered his chances of recruitment.
“He was not pleased at having to give up the money he had saved but his mother insisted that as he had done the damage, he should foot the bill.
“This was an excellent use of the local resolution procedure. The offender has learnt a lesson and literally paid for his mistake. He does not have a criminal record and has not been criminalised and may continue to apply to the Navy.”
The three victims were all pleased the outcome of the police action and the speed of the resolution.
A 16 year old boy, who had daubed graffiti over a wall at Pensnett School has not been prosecuted at the school’s request.
This is an example of a community resolution, where the victim plays an important part in working with the police to find the most appropriate way for an offender to be punished.
The boy had no previous convictions and was sorry for what he had done. He also hoped to join the armed forces and a criminal record could have hindered his chances.
As a result the school was happy for the boy to remove the graffiti, putting right the damage he had caused, and accepted his apology instead of pursuing the matter through the courts.
PC Natalie Taylor, from the Pensnett neighbourhood policing team, said: “The youth admitted the crime and has sincerely apologised for his behaviour. His parents have been fully supportive and grateful for the practical solution which was much more appropriate to the situation than following a more formal criminal justice route. They also grounded him as part of the punishment.”
Ashok Summan, caretaker of the school, added: “We see this as an isolated incident and do not want to ruin his aspirations for the future. We are happy we could resolve it in this manner.”
A group of drunken men were on their way home from the pub. One of them picked up a concrete plant pot from someone’s garden and threw it onto the pavement, where it smashed.
Police officers, who had seen the incident happen, worked with the victim to find the most appropriate way of dealing with the matter. The victim just wanted their plant pot replaced and weren’t interested in prosecuting the offender.
PC Nick Slym, from Halesowen police station, suggested the offender should repay the £80 cost of the plant pot. The victim was delighted with the police suggestion and the proactive way the incident was handled.
PC Slym said: “The offender was sorry for what he had done and paid for the damage he had caused. As he only had one previous arrest for drunk and disorderly, he would probably only have been given a caution if he had been arrested, leaving the victim to pay for the broken plant pot.
“Everyone involved was happy with the outcome.”
After receiving a report from a local resident who had witnessed youths painting graffiti on the side of their house, police officers from Winchcombe Road police station were swiftly on the case to catch them.
The Elmdon and Lyndon neighbourhood policing team searched the area with the victim and quickly managed to locate the three young culprits.
After speaking to the victim and the parents of the youths, officers decided the best course of action was to carry out a community resolution, whereby the young people agreed to clean off the graffiti.
One of the parents supplied the cleaning products and the three youngsters successfully cleaned off the damage from the house. While doing so, they also apologised to the victim and offered to do some work in their garden.
A week after the community resolution had taken place, the victim chatted to a local police community support officer (PCSO) and told them that the resolution had “restored their faith in policing”.
PC Steve Jones, from Winchcombe Road, said: “The young people involved were sorry for what they had done and agreed to clean up the damage they had caused.”