3 Nov 2022Legal updatesPolice Police powers
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (‘NPCC’) have produced guidance to govern the use of ‘Outcome 22’. Outcome 22 is a Home Office code to be used by police officers when diversionary activity has led to them taking No Further Action in a case. Crucially, this outcome can be used without an admission of guilt.
This guidance sets out that Outcome 22 should recognise cases where investigations have taken place and, although the outcome is NFA, there has been action taken to prevent reoffending or change behaviour by addressing the root cause of the offending. This might include attending a victim awareness course, engagement with addiction services or referral to a domestic abuse perpetrator programme. It might also include some form of restorative justice or practice with the victim.
This means that it can be used as an alternative to a formal Out of Court Disposal, prosecution or further investigation. However, the Outcome will not be recorded until after the diversionary activity has been completed. If it is not, other options will be considered.
The guidance also makes it clear that Outcome 22 can be used for adults or children where they have not made an admission of guilt or accepted responsibility. This differentiates it from other outcomes such as a Community Resolution (Outcome 8) or a Youth or Adult Caution (Outcomes 2 and 3 respectively), where an admission is required.
This is stated to address the lack of trust of the police and the criminal justice system by some ethnic minorities. The guidance states that this distrust, along with “potential biases within the system”, has been shown to lead to a greater number of individuals from ethnic minorities receiving formal criminal justice outcomes, where an informal outcome may have been more appropriate and done more to divert them away from criminality and change the offending behaviour.
It is positive that the NPCC has clarified the way in which the different disposal options should be used, and any additional use of disposals which divert individuals away from the criminal justice system should be welcomed. This will be particularly important for children and young people, for whom diversion, rather than formal disposals, is likely to have the greatest impact.
It is also critical that police forces recognise that this option can be used where no admission of guilt has been made. It is commendable that the NPCC has recognised that distrust in the police and the criminal justice system can prevent meaningful progress and further criminalise those from marginalised communities. Whether this is able to meaningfully prevent this in practice, remains to be seen, however, and may depend on the extent of police officers’ ability to recognise when it should be used.
Written by Robbie Eyles, Solicitor, Just for Kids Law