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  • Durham Constabulary introduced the Checkpoint programme in 2015 as an alternative to prosecution for low-level crime.
  • Checkpoint is a four-month management programme which aims to tackle underlying issues, such as alcohol or drug misuse or the offender’s mental health.
  • Offences deemed eligible for the scheme include theft, criminal damage, fraud, or common assault. Hate crimes are not accepted for Checkpoint.
  • As part of the programme, offenders agree to an individually tailored contract. If the contract is completed without the offender reoffending then no further action will be taken against them. If they fail to complete the contract, then the offender may face prosecution.
  • Initial analysis by Cambridge University, published in Policing journal, has found that individuals who took part in Checkpoint had a lower re-arrest and reoffending rate compared to offenders who had been given other types of out of court disposals (eg community service). The full study into Checkpoint is expected to be published in 2022.
  • A similar trial scheme, Operation Turning Point, was run in the West Midlands between 2011 and 2014. West Midlands police also reported reductions in reoffending as a result of the scheme.
  • The use of out of court disposals has been advocated by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. In its 2017–21 national strategy, the Council provides guidance on how to use out of court disposals and highlights the Checkpoint programme and Operation Turning Point as effective methods to reduce re-offending rates.
  • The Government stated in response to a written question in July 2019 that the use of out of court dispersals are an operational matter for the police.
  • Research from the Centre for Justice Innovation suggests that there is moderate evidence in the UK that out of court punishments for low level crime reduces reoffending. Civitas has claimed that using out of court punishments over sentences would mean more victims of burglary and shoplifting, drink-driving and knife crime.

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