Thousands of criminals including sex offenders, arsonists and violent offenders have avoided conviction.
Sussex Police introduced community resolution in 2011 to deal with low-level crimes.
But The Argus can reveal that the policy has been used more than 11,000 times in the past three years and has even been used in a case of sexual assault against a child.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show it was used 1,200 times to deal with assaults resulting in an injury, and another 1,531 for assaults without injuries.
It was also used in 3,137 theft cases and 332 cases of cannabis possession.
In total the policy was used to dispose of 11,110 crimes in the past three years.
According to police guidance on the policy it was designed to be used for low-level crimes in an effort to “allow people to acknowledge their wrongdoing when it happens, try to repair the harm and move on with their lives.”
It has also been used in cases of attempting to pervert the cause of justice, possession of firearms and other firearms offences and child abduction. According to Sussex Police, one of the advantages of using community resolution is that it can lower the rates of reoffending and can reduce costs.
An independent report noted by the police found that diverting young offenders away from prisons saves about £275 million over their lifetimes – around £7,050 per offender.
No one from Sussex Police commented on the use of the policy for serious crimes, but the policy guidance, issued on the force’s website, states: “Community resolution is based on putting the wishes of the victim first.
“If the offender expresses remorse and is prepared to find a way to make amends to the victim, the officer dealing with the case can seek an agreement where the situation can be resolved without going to court.”