July 19, 2021. News

Thames Valley VRU partner with Crest Advisory on Out of Court Disposal research

Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit is supporting new research into the use of Out of Court Disposals (OOCDs) undertaken by the leading policing research body and think-tank, Crest Advisory.

Crest Advisory’s project seeks to understand how out-of-court disposals can be used to reduce pressure on the courts – and deal more effectively with offenders.

Crest has identified the intense pressure upon the criminal justice system, exacerbated by Covid-19 disruption, with an acute need to reduce the flow of people into the courts to avoid backlogs reaching unmanageable levels.

The research project, funded by the Hadley Trust, is investigating the use of out-of-court disposals, including deferred prosecution and diversion schemes, to see how pressure can be lifted from the system and reoffending rates reduced.

Following a data and literature review, the second stage of research consists of a ‘deep dive’ working with Thames Valley Police and the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit. Crest will hold interviews and focus groups with police officers and staff to gauge their views about out-of-court disposals and programmes to divert people away from the criminal justice system. In particular, we’ll look closely at drug diversion schemes for young people and adults pioneered in the Thames Valley.

The research will explore the challenges of out-of-court disposals from those at the sharp end, establish where best practice lies and explore opportunities for improving their use, in order to reduce reoffending and the flow of people into the criminal justice system.

A third and final phase of the project will look at public perceptions of out-of-court disposals and diversion – namely, are members of the public prepared to accept their expansion and what limits would they place on their use?

Crest Advisory’s final report is due for publication in September 2021.

Detective Superintendent Stan Gilmour, Director of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“Our work to tackle serious violence and its root causes is underpinned by evidence, ensuring that we know what works and  that we evaluate the impact and outcomes where we trial new approaches.

“We have an excellent working relationship with Crest Advisory and are pleased to be able to work so closely together on two distinct areas of work.  The innovative Thames Valley drug diversion programme seeks to remove stigma and drive earlier intervention and education to change behaviour, reduce reoffending and prevent harm.  We are also exploring the ways in which social media and networks play a role in serious violence and how we address it.

“Working with Crest gives us exposure to world-class research and insights which will inform our work and supports sharing the learning with others.”

Read Crest Advisory’s latest blog on the developing research, exploring the need for all police forces to improve their transparency and the way they explain the use of Out of Court Disposals to the public.