Hundreds of town’s crooks avoid court

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Hundreds of criminals have been handed Community Resolution Disposal Orders (CRDs) for crimes in Scarborough rather than pressing ahead with a court prosecution, new figures reveal.

The data shows 771 CRDs have been issued by the town’s police officers since 2010, including a case last August which saw two 12-year-old boys given orders for an attempted sexual assault on a teenage girl.

In York, that figure was 1,042, and in Harrogate, 540. In North Yorkshire, the total number issued was 3,425.

More than 400 orders were handed out in Scarborough in 2012 - a figure up four times since 2010.

Police say CRDs are given out for relatively minor crimes, mainly for first time offenders and to deal with cases “swiftly and simply” rather than heading to court.

And while the use of the orders across the country has come under fire in the national press, officers say they are perfectly “proportioned” to the crimes they were issued for.

“Each case will be considered on its own merits and unique set of circumstances,” said Leanne McConnell, head of criminal justice at North Yorkshire Police.

“These include considerations such as the gravity and nature of the offence, the history of the offender and the victims’ wishes.”

The use of the orders has faced national criticism after it emerged the figures varied greatly from one county to the next. In North Yorkshire 17 per cent of offences were dealt with by CRDs, while in some southern counties that figure doubled. The England and Wales average is 26 per cent.

The Magistrates’ Association has slammed the use of CRDs after it emerged 90,500 indictable only offences - crimes so serious they could only be heard at a crown court - were dealt with in this way.

“Compared to the national picture, North Yorkshire is doing well,” said Richard Monkhouse, the association’s deputy chairman.

“If you go nicking in North Yorkshire, you’re more likely to end up in court. But nationally, some of these are offences are very serious.

“It speeds things up but it doesn’t consider rehabilitation or support.”