A CHILD abductor in the North-East escaped prosecution after police issued an out-of-court order aimed at low-level crimes only.

An investigation into Northumbria Police’s use of Community Resolutions (CR) between 2014 and 2018 highlighted that the orders were used for a number of serious crimes, such as robbery, possession of weapons and sex offences.

The most startling revelation was the use of a CR for a child abduction case, meaning the offence would not appear on the offender’s criminal record or standard DBS check, and did not count as a conviction.

Police forces came under fire nationwide this week after figures released by the BBC Shared Data Unit showed the orders were being used for crimes above the low-level or anti-social threshold they were designed for. Under terms of the CRs, the offender must accept blame and agree to apologise or pay compensation to the victim.

Across the Northumbria Police force area, a total of 11,259 CRs were issued between 2014 and 2018, equating to three per cent of all crimes reported.

The following number of CRs were handed out for the most serious offences:

l violence - 2,701

l sex offences - 21

l weapons possession - 19

l robbery - 4

The use of the orders has angered Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman, who said: “This is outrageous. I will be demanding that the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, explain why CRs have been used in this way, and what checks and guidance can urgently be put in place across the Northumbria Police force area to make sure CRs are used appropriately in the future.”

The head of prosecution and victims services at Northumbria Police, Supt. Dave Willett, defended the force’s use of the orders.

He said CRs were largely used for low-level offences and only when the victim supported the use. He said they would never be used when victims were vulnerable or if the crime had been committed by a repeat offender.

“CRs could still be used to deal with some violent incidents, for example, when two friends have been involved in an altercation and an assault has taken place. In this instance, the victim may not want a criminal prosecution and so a CR can be a positive solution,” he said.

“The use of CRs for offences of sexual activity with a child is also very rare but may be used when those involved are both children and a criminal prosecution would not be in the public interest.”

Courant opinion - page 22