WEST Midlands Police have stressed community resolutions "are only ever used with the consent of the victim" after a BBC data investigation revealed the out of court settlements have been used in cases of child cruelty, child sex offences, child abduction, kidnapping and grooming, blackmail and aggravated burglary.

The force issued 24,647 Community Resolutions for a variety of crimes between 2014-18 - according to analysis of official figures by the BBC's Shared Data Unit.

Community resolutions do not appear on a criminal record or standard DBS check and do not count as a conviction - and the figures, obtained from Crime Outcomes data published annually by the Home Office, show three per cent of all 797,803 crimes in the West Midlands force area were resolved this way - including an aggravated burglary of a home and a distraction burglary at a home.

Such out of court resolutions are aimed at first-time offenders where genuine remorse has been expressed and where the victim does not want police to take more formal action and police guidance says they are not normally be suitable for use with serious offences or without the agreement of the victim.

In the West Midlands - the BBC investigation found community resolutions had been used for such serious crimes as child abduction and kidnapping, blackmail (on seven occasions), rape of a child under 13 (five cases), sexual grooming (two cases) as well as in one case of abuse of children through sexual exploitation and another involving the rape of a boy under 16. Community Resolutions were also used to resolve 1,221 cases of child cruelty. In fact - 71 per cent of all community resolutions issued for this offence were issued by the force.

But a spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “Community resolutions are only ever used with the consent of the victim or their parent/guardian; they play an active role in the process and can help tailor aspects of the resolution.

“Community resolutions have been used by West Midlands Police to resolve sexual offences; these include children in sexual relationships and matters of inappropriate touching.

“Examples include where a resolution was used after a 17-year-old male had touched the bottom of a female friend.

“She told him it was inappropriate and was happy for the matter to be resolved with a letter of apology acknowledging he’d overstepped the mark; he was also referred for a psychiatric assessment.

“Another was used after a resident at a mental health centre touched a nurse’s bottom.

“And a 14-year-old boy who forwarded an indecent image of a girl he’d met on social media was also dealt with by means of a community resolution.

“In cases like these the victims have agreed it’s not proportionate to take the offender to court and have been happy with a community resolution.

“Overwhelmingly, the feedback we continue to get from the public around the use of community resolutions is extremely positive.”

Stourbridge MP Margot James said: “As I understand it, community resolutions for serious criminal offences such as rape, kidnap, and child abduction are used extremely sparingly.

"Indeed, West Midlands Police state on their website that community resolutions are utilised for 'first time offenders and for less serious offences'.

"Whilst I do not know the specific details of all of these local cases, I believe the public would expect them to be dealt with appropriately through the court systems, to ensure open transparency and justice for victims and others that are affected by such crimes.

“I regularly meet with Dudley police chiefs, and I will be raising this issue with them in the future.”

According to the data, the use of community resolutions has decreased over the last four years. In 2014-15 five per cent of all crimes in the West Midlands were dealt with this way but the number of offences resolved with community resolutions dropped to just two per cent in 2017-18.

Have you been a victim of a crime resolved with a community resolution? What do you think about their use? Have your say by leaving a comment below.