IT has been well documented that Northumbria Police, as the sixth largest force in England and Wales, has been hit hard when it comes to government cuts.

In fact outgoing Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, has gone on record repeatedly to say the force has been the hardest hit of them all.

There’s no denying that cuts of £136m since 2010 – a real terms reduction in excess of 23 per cent – will have taken its toll.

Yet the force has continued to adapt and overcome to provide a level of service which attracted an admirable outcome in the national Crime Survey for England and Wales earlier this year.

Reliability of officers was praised by the public, who scored Northumbria Police the highest of all 43 forces for doing a good job.

However, figures released this week about the way Community Resolutions are being used are bound to ring alarm bells with residents across the district and beyond.

Community Resolutions are an out-of court-disposal the police can use to deal with anti-social behaviour and low-level crime. They can include an apology or compensation to the victim, instead of prosecutions and cautions.

The process can be used with or without restorative justice, which brings those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible, into communication.

No matter how hard-pressed our serving officers are, surely the very least we can expect is that the most serious offences and dangerous offenders are dealt with in the proper way – through the criminal courts.

Surely anyone capable of abducting a child or committing a sexual offence cannot be allowed to enjoy the freedoms of an unblemished criminal record?

We trust our local councillors, MP and the new incumbent of the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner post, due to be elected next month, with give this matter their urgent attention.