Cambridgeshire Constabulary is pioneering an initiative on ECINS aimed at helping low-level offenders make amends for their crimes and avoid a court hearing.
In conjunction with the Liaison and Diversion Scheme East of England, the offender’s issues are identified and appropriate conditions are set as well as the timeframe in which it needs to be completed by. Once the condition or conditions are met, the case is finalised and there is no prosecution. If however, the conditions are not complied with, a prosecution may follow.
“Using ECINS to manage Conditional Cautioning saves time and effort because it brings all the tasks and activities under one roof” said Police Sergeant Luke Coulson, Offender Hub Co-ordinator.
The Offender Hub receives details of the offence as a referral from a Cambridgeshire Police Officer which they enter on to ECINS and then they create a profile on the system with information about the offender. In conjunction with the Liaison and Diversion Scheme East of England, the offender’s issues are then identified by the team who take responsibility for setting the condition and the timeframe in which it needs to be completed by. The profile is assigned a case which is signposted to agencies so that external support can be offered to the offender, in line with their specific needs.
There are a range of agencies involved in the Conditional Cautioning partnership including Drug and Alcohol teams and Outside Links which offer a range of support including housing, finance, benefit and debt support, employment training, education and assistance for people who do not have a postal address or a doctor/dentist . They can also assist individuals with accessing support agencies such as food banks and help with form filling. The Dawn Project is another agency involved in the partnership and they work with women offenders and ex-offenders as well as very vulnerable women. Through the Dawn Project the Offender Hub are able to provide a wide range of support to female offenders with conditional cautions including finding suitable accommodation, coping with health issues; including anxiety, stress, low self esteem or anger, coping with relationships or being a parent, violent relationships or sexual abuse and issues around prostitution.
“We manage all our Conditional Caution cases on ECINS, it’s a very efficient way of working as all the information we need is in front of us for easy viewing. We are able to prioritise the cases based on compliance and using the traffic light system on ECINS – red = high priority cases who have failed to comply with their conditions; amber = offenders who need some support to make sure they comply and green = currently complying.
“We task the agency and then monitor compliance via ECINS. The timescale is usually 12 weeks for the conditions to be complied with, if tasks are not met within the agreed timescale then we chase the partner agency to check the current status and manage all our communications securely on the system. If the offender breaches their condition then the offender will be referred back to the arresting police officer to prepare a file for court” said Sgt Coulson.
The aim of the conditional caution is to address the offender’s underlying issues to help prevent them from getting involved in crime again, it also allows for reparation to be made to the victim.
“There have been a number of people we have assisted through this initiative who are people in real need of help and support.” said Sgt Coulson. “A conditional caution rather than a court hearing has absolutely been the right course of action to help them get their lives back on track as they have been able to identify and receive the support they need. By working with a range of support agencies via ECINS we are able to offer a second chance to people, give them tailored and individual support and hopefully divert them from re-offending.”