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Cautions reviewed

The Coalition Government is to review official use of cautions. The aim according to the Ministry of Justice: stopping serious and repeat offenders from having a caution has been launched.

Working with the police and others in criminal justice, the review will go over the way in which ‘simple’ cautions are used and consider the need for any changes. It will examine:

Existing guidance and practice.
Whether there are some offence types for which the use of simple cautions is generally inappropriate – and if so, what procedures should be adopted.
The reasons why multiple cautions are given to some criminals.
The difference in the use of cautions by police force areas and whether increased scrutiny is needed to ensure they are used consistently.
The impact on individuals of accepting a caution including any potential impact on future employment.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘While we should not remove police officer discretion, the public and victims have a right to expect that people who commit serious crimes should be brought before a court. This review is a significant step to ensuring that cautions are used correctly and in the interests of justice.’

The review will report to criminal justice ministers by the end of May 2013.

Some background

A simple caution is an out of court disposal given by the police to adult criminals when specified criteria are met. It is designed to be used for low-level offending.

ACPO view

Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead on cautions Chief Constable Chris Eyre said: “The police service will work with the Ministry of Justice to understand the way in which cautions are used by forces nationally, but we are equally keen to ensure that any review takes full account of local context. Rather than a simple review of statistics, it should examine the varied operational environment police officers work in and the complexity of the current caution regime. Discretion is key to policing and I would support any police officer in using their discretion legitimately and proportionately in the best interests of victims and the communities they serve.”


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