New Devon police scheme could see offenders avoid court

PUBLISHED: 11:43 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:43 22 March 2017

Pathfinder will be rolled out in June.

Pathfinder will be rolled out in June.

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First time offenders could avoid conviction as part of GPS Pathfinder, a new scheme being rolled out by Devon and Cornwall Police in June

A new police initiative which could see first time offenders escape conviction is not ‘soft’ according to Devon’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

The new three-year scheme, named GPS Pathfinder, is set to launch in June.

First time offenders who commit low-level offences can be entered into the scheme. If they comply with a four-month contract which includes voluntary work and restorative justice with any victims, they will not be convicted.

PCC Alison Hernandez said the scheme is ‘not a soft option’ and will be ‘harder to complete’ than current out of court disposals.

“Intervening early in the offending cycle to change offenders’ behaviour reduces the chances of them reoffending,” she said.

“It invests in early help services for young people, their families and those at risk of offending in the future due to their circumstances.

“During our consultation with the public last year they told us very clearly that crime prevention and reducing offending rates was very important. By doing this we will reduce the number of victims.

In her recently published Police and Crime Plan, Ms Hernandez pledged to focus on preventing reoffending and diverting people away from crime.

Any offender who does not agree to enter Pathfinder or fails to complete the contract will be taken back to court.

Devon and Cornwall Police chief constable Shaun Sawyer said: “There is considerable evidence to support that this approach reduces future offending.

“In turn this reduces the number of victims and prevents the cycle of offending for the offender who often passes on their behaviours to the next generation.

“GPS Pathfinder is a highly innovative and bold approach by the PCC and has my full support.”

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