How Hartlepool offenders are avoiding prosecution if they agree to try and mend their ways

Cleveland Divert was launched in January 2019.Cleveland Divert was launched in January 2019.
Cleveland Divert was launched in January 2019.
More than a dozen offenders have been dealt with under a new scheme which sees them avoiding prosecution if they agree to work towards bettering themselves.

Cleveland Divert was launched in January 2019 aimed at reducing the number of victims of crime by looking to help rehabilitate adults committing low-level offences instead of charging them.

This involves eligible offenders engaging with services and participating in interventions to address the causes of offending behaviour to prevent them doing it again.

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An officer works with an offender for up to four months, and they must sign an agreement stating they will not re-offend, and will participate in victim awareness work and attend appointments with officers.

Failure to complete the conditions would then lead to a criminal prosecution, but no action would be taken against them if they complete the steps.

To date 14 referrals have been made to the system from Hartlepool since January, with a total of 117 referrals across Cleveland.

Rachelle Kipling, from the office of Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, told the latest Safer Hartlepool Partnership meeting the scheme is in its early stages and referrals are expected to increase.

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She said: “Divert is still in the very early stages of delivery, there is still work ongoing in terms of wider awareness raising and understanding as to what the adults coming in to the project hope to achieve.

“As the scheme becomes further embedded and referral pathways are further refined, it is expected that referral numbers will increase and more people will be going through the scheme and hopefully the reoffending behaviour will reduce.”

To date four referrals were for shoplifting, three for possession of drugs, while the rest were split between theft, assault, drunk and disorderly, and other offences.

More than one third of the Hartlepool referrals are men aged between 18 to 25, with a further 20% relating to females between the ages of 26 and 35.

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Officers said analysis of offender needs showed drug misuse was a primary concern for both males and females, with accommodation and financial management being specific areas of concern for female offenders.

As of the end of June 2019 12 Divert cases remain open in Hartlepool, with two cases closed due to successful completion.

Chief Inspector Nigel Burnell, of Cleveland Police, said it is ‘too early’ to say whether local police are seeing the benefits of the scheme, but is confident they will be seen in the future.

He said: “What we do know is the evidence behind this approach is quite sound.

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“It’s too early to say whether we have seen the benefits, but I’m fairly confident we will if we can get the right people and the right numbers.”

The scheme is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, and delivered by Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company and Cleveland Police.