Diversion & Rehabilitation Team (DART) intervention options
The DART team are part of the Force Offender Management Unit and deal with all offenders who are subject of an out of court disposal outcome for a low or medium level offence.
They were originally set up to deal with referrals to the innovative Checkpoint programme, however have developed over the last few years to accommodate other intervention programmes. The current interventions offered by the DART team are as follows:
Checkpoint was set up by Durham Constabulary in 2015 with the aim of reducing the number of victims of crime through an innovative approach to cut reoffending.
The four-month long offender management programme is tailor-made to the individual, giving them the opportunity to tackle underlying issues such as their mental health, alcohol and drug misuse and is classed as a “deferred prosecution” meaning the evidential test has been met, and alternative police action may be taken in the case if the offender fails to comply with the programme or commits further offences during their time on the programme.
It aims to both improve the life chances of the participants and raise awareness of/provide access to health-based interventions within the communities.
Checkpoint is open to those aged 18 years old or over who live in the Durham Constabulary force area and offers eligible individuals an alternative to prosecution.
The crime must be less than three months old and must have been committed in the County Durham and Darlington area.
Eligible offences include:
- Theft – all theft offences
- Burglary residential* or commercial
- Criminal damage
- Drugs – possession of any controlled drug and any low-level offences linked to the supply of controlled drugs**
- Public order
- Child neglect***
- Standard or medium graded domestic-related crimes (familial NOT partners)
- Common assault, ABH and assaulting a police officer
- Possession of an offensive weapon/bladed article
- Harassment and malicious communications
- Cyber crimes
Specific terms apply in some cases:
*Residential burglaries only eligible if low level, no aggravating features, and victim consent to this outcome
**Offences involving drug-dealing must be low level with no financial gain ie street dealing by an addict who is controlled by supplier
*** Child neglect referral must be authorised by Safeguarding Insp
Once referred to Checkpoint, the offender is assigned a specialist navigator for the duration of their contract period and must have a complete understanding of their obligations. They must have also made an admission or a “no reply” interview but with the proviso there is sufficient evidence to charge. Anyone detained for court or under the Mental Health Act is not suitable for Checkpoint, nor is someone already subject to a court order, a suspended sentence, or a conditional discharge; the subject is not eligible if there are any co-accused involved in the offence.
Checkpoint currently offers supported desistance via an individually tailored contract to facilitate engagement with partner agencies based on the offender’s criminogenic needs. Checkpoint is not a soft option. It will often be harder for the offender to complete than the traditional out of court disposals currently available to them, such as a caution or a fixed penalty notice.
If the subject successfully completes the contract and does not reoffend during that 4-month period, then no further police action will be taken against them however it may be retained in police records for a period of time and may be disclosed under an enhanced DBS check. However, if a person re-offends during their contract period or fail to comply with the conditions of their contract then they will potentially face alternative prosecution and we will provide the courts with the circumstances of their failure to complete the Checkpoint programme.
As part of Checkpoint, all victims of offences that are referred into the Checkpoint programme will be contacted by the team where possible and will also be referred to the Victim Care and Advice Service and Restorative Justice if appropriate.
Since 2016, Checkpoint has formed part of a PhD study between Durham Constabulary and Cambridge University. The measurable outcome for this trial was aimed at measuring the reduction of reoffending as well as the seriousness of any reoffending (utilising the Harm Index by the ONS). Both the effects on victim satisfaction and the overall cost benefits of each intervention were also evaluated and considered.
The foundations for this project have been built on an understanding on what evidence is available to support deterrence and desistence from crime.
The evidence-based research resulted in a published paper through Cambridge University which can be found here: Routledge G 2015 A Protocol and Phase I Experimental Trial: The Checkpoint Desistance Programme in Durham: https://www.crim.cam.ac.uk/alumni/available-theses
Cannabis Brief Interventions
Under the amended Force Out of Court Disposal Policy, some individuals found in possession of a small amount of cannabis may be dealt with via the Prosec 88 process (which replaced cannabis warnings). The offender details are recorded, and a referral made to the DART team for a brief intervention around cannabis use. Any referred cases such as this will be dealt with by way of an assessment and any appropriate interventions offered on a bespoke basis.
As per the Force Out of Court Disposal policy, any domestic abuse related offence involving partners or ex-partners are not eligible for DART intervention. However, those cases where familial members are involved, such as siblings, parent & child, remain eligible if the offence is low/medium graded on the safeguarding report and there are no aggravating factors.A full assessment is carried out by a DART navigator and the original Checkpoint process will apply.
As per the Force Out of Court Disposal Policy, any offence that is considered for a Community Resolution as an outcome may be eligible for a DART intervention, even if it is not on the eligible list of offences for the original Checkpoint programme. This may include some low-level hate crime. However, there are some caveats for any hate crimes that are referred to DART - the victim MUST agree to this outcome and the offender MUST have made full admissions and the Cohesion Unit Inspector MUST authorise it.
Durham Constabulary’s DART team are proud to be at the forefront of problem-solving and early intervention and have received several national and international awards for their offender management work including the Goldstein Award (USA), the Howard League Penal Reform (UK), Best Police Service Award (UK) and NEPAC Award for Innovation.