New powers which could see low-level offenders forced to apologise, repair damage and pay compensation to their victims have been welcomed across the Fylde coast.
Under new measures proposed by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act offenders could be forced to make repairs, pay compensation, speak to victims at face-to-face meetings or do unpaid local work.
Rather than go to prison, the act proposes an appropriate ‘Community Remedy’ agreed between the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner and the community and used by the police.
Coun Cheryl Little, Fylde Council’s cabinet member for community safety, welcomed the plans.
She added: “The Community Remedy has been introduced to ensure that victims of some crimes and anti-social behaviour have a say in the way offenders are dealt with when an out-of-court disposal is thought to be the best option.
“First, the offender must admit that he or she has committed the offence.
“Both victim and offender must agree on the particular remedy being proposed and the officer must be satisfied that the proposed remedy is a suitable choice for both the crime and the offender.
“We were asked locally what punishments we would like to see and the new measures are now in place.”
The Act was launched last week and sees police forces and local authorities working together more closely than ever before to help tackle anti-social behaviour – which is a priority for police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw.
Mr Grunshaw said: “Community Remedy will be used in cases where dealing with offenders out of court is the most appropriate option, and it will be an important way of giving victims a voice in this process.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner I want to empower victims and communities.
“I want them to feel involved in tackling the issues which blight their neighbourhoods and to feel satisfied with the outcome if they have been a victim of crime.”
The new steps, applicable mainly but not exclusively to youngsters, will be used with traditional out-of-court sanctions such as conditional cautions.