Alternatives to arrest and detention
Petty offences are generally minor, non-violent and victimless. Interventions by the criminal justice system should always be kept to the minimum level needed to protect society. Moreover, the sanction chosen for a petty offence in all circumstances should be the least intrusive available one. Instead of arresting and detaining people for petty offences, governments should consider declassifying certain minor offences to non-arrestable offences for which a warning or fine becomes applicable. Most African countries’ criminal justice systems and prisons are struggling to cope with limited resources. Strictly enforcing laws dealing with petty offences is a waste of important police, prosecutorial and judicial time and resources and deflects from dealing with serious crimes.