Repeat offenders should not be cautioned

Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling has indicated that the government does not believe that serious and repeat offenders should simply receive a caution and has launched a Government review into the system.

There were 205,700 cautions issued in the 12 months ending September 2012. This was 12.5 per cent fewer than the 235,000 in the 12 months ending September 2011 and 44.0 per cent fewer than the peak of 367,300 cautions issued in the 12 months ending September 2007.

Working closely with the police and other criminal justice professionals, the review will scrutinise the way in which ‘simple’ cautions are currently used and consider the need for any changes to legislation or guidance. In particular it 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.

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.

‘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 Ministry of Justice are working in conjunction with the Home Office and Attorney General’s Office, and will closely involve the police, Crown Prosecution Service, victim’s organisations, the magistracy and the judiciary, as well as the wider legal community and sector organisations with an interest in the criminal justice system.

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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