A community remedy document is a list of actions which might be appropriate to be carried out by a person who has engaged in anti-social behaviour or has committed an offence and is to be dealt with without court proceedings. The document will be prepared by the local policing body and can be revised at any time.
The community remedy document must be prepared or revised in consultation with the chief officer of police for the area, whatever community representatives the local policing body thinks it appropriate to consult and undertake whatever other public consultation it thinks appropriate. All of these viewpoints must be taken into account.
The Community Remedy applies where:
a) A person such as a police officer (P) has evidence that an individual (A) has engaged in ASB or committed an offence
b) A admits to P that he or she has done so
c) P thinks that the evidence is enough for taking proceedings against A for an Injunction or taking other court proceedings, but decides that it would be more appropriate for A to carry out action of some sort instead, and
d) Where the evidence is that A has committed an offence, P thinks that the matter is not so serious that a conditional caution is appropriate.
Before deciding what action to invite A to carry out, P must make reasonable efforts to obtain the views of the victim (if any) of the anti-social behaviour, and in particular the victim’s views as to whether A should carry out any of the actions listed in the community remedy document.
Our Original Analysis when it became Law
The Community Remedy suggestions will depend on the views of the community in each police force area but could include, for example:
- Mediation (for example, to solve a neighbour dispute);
- The offender signing an Acceptable Behaviour Contract – where they agree not to behave anti- socially in the future, or face more formal consequences;
- Participation in structured activities funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner as part of their efforts to reduce crime; or
- Reparation to the community (for example, by doing local unpaid work for up to 10 hours).
At first glance, these all seem to be sensible measures which could help to deal quickly with some anti-social behaviour and empower both the victim and the local community.
However, the Magistrates Association takes a different view which we believe is worth summarising here:
- The Magistrates Association believes the courts are the proper place for anti-social behaviour to be dealt with so as to ensure transparency and consistency of sentencing and sanction monitoring. They wholly oppose the proposal to invite individual victims to choose an appropriate sanction from a community remedy list which could lead to an offender who offends against a sensitive victim being treated very differently to one who offends against someone with a higher threshold for suffering distress.
- They believe that the removal of judicial supervision combined with the informality of the application and execution of an ever-widening scope of the use of out of court disposals will lead to more, not less, offending as well as de-criminalise such behaviour in the mind of the offender and the public at large.
- They believe it will result in wide-spread inconsistencies of practice throughout England and Wales and are concerned that a lack of recording of these out of court disposals will put victims at risk of repeat victimisation of the kind that led to the deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter in 2007.
- They also express concern about the lack of clarity about who will arrange and supervise the different possible sanctions and measures, whether it be attendance on courses, treatment programmes, reparation of damage or the payment of compensation.
ASB Help is open minded to the new proposals but we hope that the Government takes the Magistrates Association’s points into account as much as possible before rolling out the Community Remedy, especially to ensure that victims are properly protected and feel the problem they are experiencing has been taken seriously enough and an appropriate resolution found.