How to get a police caution removed

Police caution removal can be the difference between getting your next job or not. In this guide, specialist solicitor Mark Hopwell provides expert insight into how to get a police caution removed based on his extensive experience of supporting clients through the process.

In the 21st century, having the best qualifications and putting in a sterling interview performance is no guarantee of getting your dream job if you have had a past brush with the law. These days DBS checks are a regular occurrence and there is no guarantee that the filtering rules will hide the details you would rather not be used to judge your character. A police caution from several years ago can have long-term unanticipated consequences.

Read on to learn all of the latest information you need to know about cautions and the process of police caution removal.

How long does a police caution appear in a DBS check?

Cautions will be disclosed on standard and enhanced DBS checks for six years if you are an adult and two years if you’re under 18. Certain specified offences are subject to disclosure beyond these periods.

Should you receive a caution for a serious violent or sexual offence – or any offence that impacts the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults – this may be included in a DBS check for an unlimited period. The police have further discretion to disclose details of a caution if they feel that it is relevant to the job role.

Many professions these days, especially those that are regulated, but also those that fall into the financial or safeguarding categories, allow the police to use their discretion and disclose any relevant information on your DBS.

It is simply not the case that once an offence is eligible for filtering that it disappears forever. All the information remains on the Police National Computer until you are 100 years of age and is always disclosable if the right situation arises.

For most people, the disclosure of a conviction is probably expected, but many people will have been led to believe by the police that a caution, warning or reprimand is not a permanent record. They are. In fact, even your arrest is recorded as a part of your ‘Event History’ and for some offences, even where no further action was taken or you were acquitted of all charges at court, the details of the offence you were arrested for is disclosable.

A conviction can never be removed, but out-of-court disposals such as police cautions, warnings and reprimands can be deleted entirely from the Police National Computer if sufficient grounds can be established. Even your arrest record can be deleted in certain circumstances. This is the only way to be sure an old brush with the law does not come back to haunt you.

Can a police caution be removed?

A police caution will only ever be removed under ‘exceptional circumstances’ as defined by Annex A of the National Police Chief’s Guidance, such as situations in which the removal is in the ‘public interest’.

Other possible grounds for police caution removal include:

  • You were unfit to accept the caution at the time;
  • Due process was not followed, resulting in an unfair caution;
  • Samples were unlawfully taken;
  • You have a proven alibi;
  • A malicious or false allegation has been made;
  • A judicial recommendation has been made to remove the caution;
  • There was a case of mistaken identity or unlawful arrest;
  • Another person has been convicted of the offence.

In certain circumstances, then, a police caution can be removed from the PNC (Police National Computer). However, it requires compelling grounds to be put forward that are sufficient to persuade the police that the caution ought not to remain on the PNC. If the police don’t agree to delete your caution, it is possible to challenge that decision through Judicial Review proceedings at the Administrative Court.

It is advisable to consult a specialist solicitor who has in-depth knowledge of the exceptional circumstances in which police caution removal can occur, as well as the degree of flexibility that these allow for making your case. Our expert team has many years of experience in helping clients to make successful applications and can advise you on the best course of action – get in touch today.

Reasons to look into getting a caution removed

The reasons why a past police caution needs to be removed vary. For some, it can be very stressful just knowing something may appear on their DBS even if they have not tried to use it yet. For others, they feel the caution was given to them unjustly, or perhaps the police misled them about the repercussions of admitting to the offence, or they had presented a clear defence and only signed the caution form to end the matter quickly and leave the police station.

For many, they need to progress in their careers as they leave their studies or want to move into a higher position at work and a DBS check could hold them back. For others, it is foreign travel or immigration that is being frustrated by an old offence. It is even a bar to volunteering your time to a good cause.

In all these instances, people are being judged today for something that possibly happened many years ago, in very specific circumstances, which were generally minor offences and are usually isolated instances in an otherwise flawless past. Explaining that to a potential employer, though, is never going to be easy.

How much does it cost to remove a caution?

The police do not charge a fee for an application being submitted. However, specific criteria must be met and a persuasive argument made within any application in order for the police to delete a caution – it is therefore highly advisable to seek legal support before applying.

The likelihood of the police deleting your caution from the PNC is significantly enhanced if you seek the support of a specialist solicitor to help you make your case. Speak to our team for advice and support.

How to get a police caution removed with Richard Nelson LLP

It is only right where clear DBS checks are required in so many everyday circumstances, that proper consideration is given to removing any past infringement. Not all cases will have valid reasons for removal, but where the harm now being caused by its existence outweighs the seriousness of the original offence, that should be fully explored.

At Richard Nelson LLP we offer an Initial Assessment of your case so you know if there are any potential grounds for having your police caution removed. We explore all the legal, procedural and personal circumstances specific to your case that may be relevant. If our advice is positive and you wish to proceed, we will then construct and submit a full application on your behalf. Learn more about our police caution removal service or get in touch today.

Police caution removal FAQs

1. How can I apply to have my police caution removed?

The process for removing a police caution typically involves making an application to the police force that issued the caution. If the police do not agree to remove the caution, you can seek a legal remedy by a judicial review process through the courts. However, a judicial review exercise is expensive and time consuming and so our efforts will always be focused on seeking to persuade the police to remove it from your record. 

Speak to our team to begin the process.

2. What are the grounds for applying to have a police caution removed?

Applications to have a caution removed will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, or when it is considered to be in the public interest. This can include errors in the caution procedure, lack of evidence, or evidence of innocence, such as a proven alibi, or evidence that the original allegations were malicious or false.  It’s essential to discuss your specific case with us to determine the most appropriate grounds.

3. Do I qualify for having my caution removed, and what evidence is needed to support my case?

Your eligibility for caution removal and the evidence required can vary depending on your case. We will need to review the details to provide a more precise answer.

4. What are the potential outcomes of this application?

The potential outcomes can include the caution being removed, or it remaining on your record. We will aim to maximise the chances of having it removed.

Get in touch today.

5. How long does the process typically take?

This varies depending on the police force involved and how quickly they process applications. In general we suggest 6 months is a realistic timeframe, but warn that some police forces can take considerably longer. 

6. What is the cost associated with this legal service?

The process is divided into two stages, with the first allowing our police caution removal solicitors to properly assess your case and provide clear advice on what grounds for deletion may be available to you. The second is making the full application. These stages are paid for separately and you do not need to pay for stage two if you choose not to progress. We always provide a fixed fee quote up front so you know all the costs before you agree to instruct us.

7. Can you provide an estimate of the likelihood of success in my case?

We can provide clients an initial telephone consultation for a fixed fee to advise them about the general likelihood of success. However, within stage one we always provide clear and robust advice specific to the circumstances of your case. 

8. Will I need to attend court or any other legal proceedings as part of this process?

We will aim to persuade the police to remove the caution in the first instance. This application is done in writing, so there is no need for you to attend a court or hearing of any kind. However, if this application is not successful, then we will advise you about your options, which may include a later application to the police for it to be removed, or an application for a judicial review to the Administrative Court. 

9. What are the potential consequences if my application is unsuccessful?

The caution will simply remain on your record. However, this may damage your prospects of joining some professions and may limit your ability to travel to certain countries. 

10. How will deletion affect my criminal record and background checks?

Removing a caution can clear your record of all entries, which means there will be nothing to be shown on any future DBS certificates.

11. What information or documents do I need to provide to get started?

Nothing, provided you can provide some basic information regarding the date and place you received your caution. If not, you can obtain a printout of your record through ACRO, which will have many of the details we may need.

12. What is your experience in handling cases like mine?

We have handled hundreds of cases and covered all of the normal offences which result in a caution. However, every case is different and unique to the specific circumstances. We go through every detail with you very carefully so we understand your case and can then properly draft your grounds for deletion to submit to the relevant police force.

To learn more about how we can help, contact us.



Other articles you may be interest in


Should I accept a police caution?

1 of 1
Arrange a call today

Are you an individual or business looking for legal advice and representation?

Speak to a lawyer
  • Award-winning service
  • Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
  • Benchmark for quality