Pre-charge warnings replacing diversion

People getting diversion after committing minor crimes won’t be required to make a donation to an organisation from July 1.

National Manager Police Prosecutions, Superintendent Craig Tweedie, said the success of pre-charge warnings, the continuing drop in crime and the focus on reparation for victims and rehabilitation for offenders had significantly reduced the number of donations given to groups as a condition of being granted diversion.

Mr Tweedie said the Police Prevention First National Operating Strategy reinforced a balanced approach to enforcement and alternative ways of resolving lower level offending.

“People who get in trouble with the law for the first time and are unlikely to re-offend are now being dealt with through pre-charge warnings, removing the need for a court appearance altogether.”

Pre-charge warnings have been very successful at holding people to account for their actions, while keeping low-level offending cases out of the court system.

For those offenders who do go through the court system a focus on prevention and victims has meant reparation to the victim and/or rehabilitation for the offender has been the focus of Diversion.

“A donation to an approved group is not reparation as it does not redress the damage caused to the injured party, Mr Tweedie said. “As a result of these factors diversion with donations being given as a condition have significantly reduced and continue to do so,” Mr Tweedie said.

For these reasons we now have an ever-decreasing pool of money to be shared between over 225 organisations. We expect the decline in donations to continue and believe the donation condition aspect of diversion is no longer viable.

Ending the condition to pay a donation will not lessen the impact of diversion on offenders.

They may be ordered to pay reparation to their victims, or they may need to attend a rehabilitative programme to address any underlying issues which they will be asked to pay for in whole or part instead of making a charitable donation. . . .

The man who stole my laptop a few years ago was given diversion. One of the conditions was he make a donation to Women’s Refuge.

I wasn’t consulted and wouldn’t have objected had I been. But making a donation to charity isn’t usually making reparation to the victim.

Groups which used to benefit from donations will miss the money but the amount they receive has been reducing as the numbers of people getting diversion has decreased.

Diversion Completion date range/Diversion Numbers

1 July 2009 – 30 June 2010/12,525
1 July 2010 – 30 June 2011/8,858
1 July 2011 – 30 June 2012/6,576
1 July 2012 – current (17 June)/5,289

There may still be a place for diversion but pre-charge warnings are a better option for most first-time offenders who are unlikely to offend again.

It’s better to leave court for more serious offences where appropriate.

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