‘Low-level’ offenders getting a chance to say sorry

A scheme in which low level offenders say sorry to their victims rather than face prosecution is dealing with around 20 first-time criminals a month in Derry.

Under the PSNI’s discretionary disposal scheme - introduced in the city last July - offenders are encouraged to admit the offence and apologise to their victims, either in a face-to-face meeting or by letter. In some cases the offender must also pay for or fix any damage.

A PSNI spokeswoman says the scheme offers “an alternative method of dealing with first-time, low level offenders.”

“The scheme is based on the premise of local solutions for local problems. It is one of a range of options open to police to deal with some types of crime.

“It offers victims the opportunity to have the offence dealt with quickly, in the most appropriate manner and with the agreement of all parties.”

Over the last three months 60 crimes - 22 in April, 27 in May and 11 in June thus far - have been dealt with in Derry via the initiative.

The police spokeswoman says the scheme has been working well.

“Feedback to date has been positive with a number of innovative resolutions reached by agreement of victim and offender.

“We believe the scheme challenges offenders to recognise the impact of their behaviour and delivers a prompt and effective outcome tailored to the needs of the victim,” she says.

Since its launch in the PSNI’s G District - an area that covers Derry, Limavady, Strabane and Magherafelt - last July, a total of 528 crimes have been dealt with via the discretionary disposal scheme.