Father of schoolboy set on fire backs new crime panel

York Press: Peter Wishart’s 13-year-old son, Gabriel, was set on fire Peter Wishart’s 13-year-old son, Gabriel, was set on fire

THE father of a schoolboy set on fire in York has said he would support a new panel dealing with cases that never reach court.

More than 1,800 community resolution disposal orders were issued by North Yorkshire Police last year, meaning offenders did not have to attend court.

The orders aim to address victims’ wishes and suffering, but in some cases involve the offender being told simply to apologise.

Critics have said they were overused, leading the Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan to set up the Out Of Court Disposal Scrutiny Panel.

In January, Clifton schoolboy Gabriel Wishart was set on fire by a boy in Ashton Park. His 13-year-old attacker was found by police, and ordered to write a letter of apology.

Peter Wishart, Gabriel’s father, said he supported the panel and would be happy to get involved, but hoped it would ensure the orders were appropriate to the crime.

He said he felt the legal system was tied up and the easiest alternative was an apology letter.

He said: “I would definitely support it [the panel], maybe for minor acts of vandalism or pranks gone wrong, but not deliberately setting someone on fire or attacking someone, making someone’s life a complete misery.

“I don’t believe a letter was appropriate. I believe an independent panel would make sure the appropriate offences get dealt with by letter, and more serious offences are taken further, and the police are supported in that.”

The panel, which will work independently of police, the PCC and other criminal justice agencies, with the intent to ensure the wishes of victims are met, while still being appropriate to the offence. The panel will also consult victims of crime, magistrates and police officers.

Mrs Mulligan said: “The public and magistrates have raised concerns with me for some time about the use of Out of Court Disposals, and this is an important step to ensuring they are used appropriately and scrutinised independently.

“We need to be certain that victims of crime are at the heart of these decisions, and that offenders are getting a suitable punishment for their crime.”

The voluntary post of independent panel chair has been advertised.

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