We spoke with Claire Jacobs, an Inspector within the Criminal Justice Unit at Humberside Police, leading on the implementation for adult out of court disposals about how Humberside have moved from a 6 tier disposal to a 2 tier plus force.
Tell us a bit about you and your role at Humberside?
I'm the inspector in the current adult out of court disposal unit, implementing the new adult out of court disposal process. I've been a police officer since 2004, starting my career in West Yorkshire, before moving to South Yorkshire and then Humberside police force. I've spent the large proportion of my career in operational policing, working with communities and partners drew me to this role. I believe we need to work with the community and partners to support individuals away from the criminal justice system and into interventions within our communities.
How have you adapted to the recent changes in legislation regarding Out of court disposals (OOCDs)?
I started this role last September and initially reviewed the legislation. I discussed the changes and progress made by other forces at regional groups and national groups to understand what action and challenges were being identified.
In February 2023, we decided to make some changes with our adult out of court disposals in Humberside as we were six-tiered disposal force. We still had the cannabis warning, Khat warnings, community resolutions, PNDs, simple and conditional cautions - we proceeded to take a phased approach by educating staff on the new changes. The uptake has been really well received, with officers understanding that cannabis warnings are transitioning to community resolutions and using partners for referrals to provide early intervention.
How did you work with partners?
I was fortunate that the partners I have contacted are proactive in making the changes. They have been involved since the start of the process. I knew we had great working partnerships with the community, so there was no need to change something we know is already working. It was important for me to get local teams to tell me about the local services, for the councils and the NHS tell me what was available. Also, working closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner was pivotal as they have got a good grasp of the force as a whole.
The uptake has been really well received not just externally, but also internally. For example, with our NICHE internal teams and DA VAWG, they’ve all been around the table very early on.
How did you prepare staff for the new changes?
Training and awareness. Attending Sergeant training, Prisoner process teams and senior leader meetings. I have two officers in the team who go out to divisions and to evidential review officers and speak to them face to face. We've also got an Intranet site that has everything all in one place, like a one stop shop for officers and so they could make that decision at 2:00 o'clock in the morning when the department's not open. I have great communication with our senior officers, who have been driving it from the front. I've been going to senior leader’s meetings explaining the process and they've been cascading information to their teams and also giving me the opportunity to attend events and even briefings, to share learning and answer questions.
How did you go about implementing this framework so quickly?
I developed a process map, which was a phased approach from 6 to 2 tier plus process. Phase One was the removal of the cannabis warning, Phase Two was the removal of PNDs and then Phase Three (a), was to develop the community resolution and conditional caution process and use of conditions. We have progressed the process, ensuring dates and times of changes were communicated to staff. We’ve made sure that we were available for officers to contact and ask us questions, we have points of contact that are well known to officers and are knowledgeable.
We have the DIVERT team where all cautions are reviewed, monitored and referrals are made. They are the quality control, ensuring that our actions stand up to scrutiny. The DIVERT team takes away that responsibility away from the frontline, who have their own workload and demands, and take ownership of the process.
What’s been the biggest success and challenge so far?
The biggest success is the internal and external partners working together. For example, working with the internal lead for technology innovation. There are certain things we can do with technology and there is expertise that can make our process better. That was beneficial for us but likewise with the external partners knowing what they can achieve, so we're not putting unrealistic expectations on them and causing them to disengage was important. Another success has been working with senior leaders right from the beginning, this gave me the confidence to look at the information and evidence we have and make decisions quickly and with support.
I don't like talking about challenges, but a challenge for us has been with the delays in national legislation change. But in the interim, that's allowed us to work harder to get the conditional caution process right, deliver bespoke interventions and look at gaps that we may have in interventions in certain areas. So as much as it is a challenge, it's given us that opportunity to move forward and get conditions right, both with the officers and setting the process and with the partners. The aim is by ‘go live’ officers will be aware of conditions, the process, how we set it and that being second nature.
Do you have advice of tips for officers in a similar position?
- Get the support from colleagues - you can't do this process alone, so that includes the senior leaders right from the top, evidential review officers and the subject matter experts (not just within the organisation but outside the organisation too).
- Work together in partnership - work together to understand and prioritise the needs and demands within the community.
- Be accessible, engage with those partners, because we all have the same aim - to work together to serve our communities, to make them safer and stronger.
- Lastly, keep it simple - Who was already working with you? Who is already working within the local areas with the Councils, what is already happening and what's already available?