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Crime victims could choose punishments
VICTIMS of minor crimes may soon be able to choose a punishment for offenders if proposals are approved.
The Home Office is considering plans to let residents subjected to crimes like theft and anti-social behaviour decide what happens to the criminal.
John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said the move would ‘give victims a voice’.
He said: “I think it is a step in the right direction as it does a number of things.
“It starts putting the victim in the middle of things, which is where they should be, but it’s not where they always are.
“We aren’t going to be able to give them an option that includes hanging, drawing and quartering, but these options will at least give them a voice.”
If approved, Mr Dwyer will be responsible for drawing up a list of punishments that relate to specific crimes.
Mooted options include paying compensation, repairing damage or cleaning graffiti, unpaid work or an alcohol or drug treatment programme.
Such penalties are already in use, but under the current system a magistrate or judge decides on which to enforce.
A criminal would only get one chance under the new system, and if an offence is committed again they would be sentenced under the usual guidelines.
My Dwyer believes the decision should lie with those affected by crime, and says it will also benefit police officers by making their job easier.
“It will help them because they are not bogged down in paperwork, letting them spend more time on the streets, and it will save time and money as well.”
The commissioner believes criminals will also benefit, although the proposals do not represent a soft option.
He said: “I think the victims recognise the benefit of this and not see it as a soft option.
“Probably 95 per cent of people are law-abiding folk.
“From time to time there are a small number that indulge in criminal behaviour. If we can divert them from offending then we will win.”
The consultation runs until March 7. An online form is available at homeoffice.gov.uk.
To give your views to Mr Dwyer call his office on 01606 634000.