Justice is also about fair play

You report that culprits will have to pay for the damage they cause even if they are not charged with an offence." (Herald, March 11) PC Atyeo apparently told Honiton town councillors that police will use conditional cautions to ensure people are compensated for the cost of repairs.

You report that "culprits will have to pay for the damage they cause - even if they are not charged with an offence." (Herald, March 11)PC Atyeo apparently told Honiton town councillors that police will use conditional cautions to ensure people are compensated for the cost of repairs. It would be interesting to know how councillors responded to this approach.Justice is a big issue and it is not simply about compensation, monetary or otherwise, but also about fair play and effectively addressing offending behaviour. It is reported that, nationally, more than 50 per cent of those brought to justice never appear in court, a fall of 20 per cent in five years, though crime is said to have risen (The Times, Feb 7, 2009) Our town council may be given crime figures, but are they informed of outcomes?The police have a difficult job but in the last five years they have made increased use of diversionary penalties - Devon and Cornwall Constabulary report 22,000 street fines, fixed penalty notices and cautions, some for serious and repeated offences. These are valued at �1.6m to police coffers, although it appears 60 per cent have not been paid in full or on time (Western Morning News Feb 8, 2009). Even so, the Justice Department is proposing to extend the use of fixed penalties to 21 new crimes, such as making threats to destroy property, stealing petrol from a filling station and drunken/yobbish behaviour.There is a case for fixed penalties but some might think these kinds of offences are serious enough to be heard in court in the interests of victims, offenders and the community. Is a caution or street fine an effective response to an offender who repeatedly engages in disorderly behaviour, harassment or shoplifting?May I respectfully suggest the next time town councillors are given crime figures, they invite the police to give the corresponding figures for actions taken and penalties invoked.We would then have a more rounded picture of crime and justice in Honiton.Tony SimpsonHoniton


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