Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Austin: Too many offenders given slap on the wrist

A report prompted by magistrates in Dudley has shown that police cautions are used “inappropriately” in up to a third of cases.

The finding was revealed in a new report from MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee on the use of ‘out-of-court disposals’ including cautions, fines and community resolutions.

Austin asked the Home Affairs Select Committee of which he is a member to investigate the issue after Dudley magistrates told him that a rising number of crimes were never coming to court. Official figures for the West Midlands show that the number of offences brought to justice has fallen in the last year, with a third of offences never reaching court.

The report identifies significant variations in how and when out-of-court disposals are used across the country, with some police forces sending just three in ten cases to court.

Austin has called for victims of crime to have a say on how cautions are used and for tougher restrictions on when the police can use them instead of bringing cases to court.

Austin recently launched a campaign to keep Dudley Police Station open to the public, and previously launched a successful campaign to protect Dudley Magistrates Court.

Ian Austin said:

“I called for a report on this issue after local people and court magistrates told me that too many offenders are being given a slap on the wrist.

“Now this report confirms that up to a third of offenders should face tougher action.

“Police in Dudley work flat out to keep the public safe, but victims have to feel that justice is being done when cases don’t go to court.

“This is really important because local people want more police on the streets, more offenders brought before court and more criminals put in jail.”

The Home Affairs Select Committee Report on Out-of-Court Disposals can be read here.

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