Justice Secretary announces that serious and repeat offenders should not expect to escape with a caution.
Chris Grayling has launched a review in to how cautions are currently used, and consider changed to legislation or guidance for occasions they are issued.
Cautions, issued at the discretion of police, are a way of sanctioning criminals without going to court and are a good way to keep costs down, and can also be an effective punishment for small offences. Last year more than 200,000 people who committed crimes were cautioned.
However, concerns have been raised that they are being used inappropriately against current guidance.
The government review will be working closely with the police and criminal justice professionals to assess whether the present procedures for repeat offenders and serious crimes are appropriate.
The review will look at:
existing guidance and practice relating to the use of simple cautions;
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 different police forces and whether increased scrutiny is needed to ensure they are used consistently; and
the impact on individuals of accepting a caution including any potential impact on future employment.
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.
Mr 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.
I also have grave concerns about some recent cases where cautions have been given to criminals who have committed multiple crimes.
This review is a significant step to ensuring cautions are used correctly and in the interests of justice.
The review will report to criminal justice ministers by the end of May 2013 and any changes will be brought forward in due course.
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