Diverting Criminals to Education Courses

I have suggested in the past that now the police have learned that they can extract money from offenders by offering them “education courses” (as they are doing for speeding and other motoring offences), they would soon extend it to burglars and other criminals. The police can offer “waivers”, the offender pays a course operator and the police obtain a cut of the fee paid by the criminal. Another advantage for the police is that they do not incur the costs of pursuing the prosecution and of appearing in court.

The latest news is that diversion is apparently already happening in the case of drug offences, public order offences, theft and shoplifting according to a recent report in the Daily Mail. Drug users found with cocaine, heroin and ecstasy can opt to complete a three hour education course and promise to behave themselves for four months instead of risking seven years in jail.

One person suggested “street-smart drug dealers will be laughing all the way to the workshops” according to the Mail report. The scheme is known as “Checkpoint” and has been run in Durham (who have a web site that explains it) and in Avon & Somerset.

Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg has said “It’s also important to adopt this kind of strategy as we face financial cutbacks and have to look at different ways of operating – this will help us to cope. There’s scope for savings with regard to police, court, probation and prison time – any cost will be outweighed by the savings”

Yes it’s about money, not justice or crime prevention.

What do you think? Is this an easy way for criminals to escape justice?

Roger Lawson

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