What is a Police Caution?
If you commit a minor crime, the police can issue you with a caution. These can be issued to anyone over the age of 10 years old. Once a police caution has been issued, it will generally appear on your record used by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for six years (this is reduced to two years if you were under 18 at the time the caution was issued). Although a caution is not the same as a criminal conviction, it is still indicative of a criminal offence having been committed and can therefore have serious implications in your private and professional life.
Implications of Employment & Travelling Abroad with a Police Caution
If you have received a police caution, youth warning or reprimand, you may have agreed to this without having fully appreciated the ramifications it would have for you in later life. Having a caution on your record may negatively impact you on the advancement of your chosen career, particularly if you intend to work with children or vulnerable adults, or if you wish to enter into a regulated profession. A caution on your record may even impact on your travel plans. At the time you accepted the caution, you may have been misled by the Police about the implications of it.
It is possible that in certain circumstances, Police cautions can be removed from your record.
Retention of Police Cautions
What is a simple caution from the police?
A simple caution is a record of criminal allegation where an individual accepts the evidence and admits the allegation. A caution is recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC) and forms part of an individual’s criminal record and is disclosed on background checks including DBS checks and immigration checks.
Conditional cautions attach conditions, such as the payment of a fine, or an apology letter; if the conditions are not met then the caution can be voided with a prosecution commenced.
There are also youth cautions and youth conditional cautions, which are similar to adult cautions but have slightly different procedural requirements.
Is a police caution a criminal conviction?
A police caution is not technically a criminal conviction, but it does have a number of the hallmarks of a conviction. Most significant of these is that it will be retained on the PNC indefinitely, and so will be a permanent criminal record. Certain disclosure rules apply to when a caution can be disclosed, but the caution will always remain on the PNC unless it is deleted.
How far back does the Police National Computer go?
Police cautions are retained on the Police National Computer (PNC) for 100 years.
All cautions, reprimands and warning retained on the PNC are potentially disclosable on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) depending on the circumstances.
Most adult cautions become protected, or “filtered”, after six years (2 years for youth warnings and reprimands) and will not automatically appear on a standard or enhanced DBS. However, cautions for offences that are classed as “specified”, considered to be the more serious offences related to potential safeguarding issues, are never protected and will always be disclosed on an enhanced and standard check.
In addition, the police retain a discretion to disclose any caution on an enhanced DBS check (even if it has been filtered), where they deem it to be relevant to the specific DBS check.
The only way a police caution will never show up on a DBS check is if it gets deleted from the PNC.
Will a caution be removed after five years on the PNC?
There is a common misconception that a police caution gets removed after five years due to previous rules related to retention of cautions. The retention and disclosure rules have changed many times over the years. A police caution is retained on the PNC for 100 years unless deleted. A caution will not be disclosed on a basic DBS check but will show on an enhanced and standard DBS check for six years. The police also have a discretion to disclose information on an enhanced DBS check if they feel it is relevant to a particular job role. Also, cautions for certain specified offences will always be disclosed, no matter how much time has elapsed.
Can a police caution be removed from the PNC?
Yes, a police caution can get deleted from the PNC. It requires compelling grounds to be put forward that are sufficent to persuade the police that the caution ought not to remain on the PNC. If the police don’t agree to the delete your caution, it is possible to challenge that decision through Judicial Review proceedings at the Administrative Court.
Work with a caution removal specialist
|Get in touch with Mark to discuss removing your caution:|
Tel: 0333 888 40404
Mark Hopwell is a former barrister and now a solicitor with over 20 years’ experience.
Having spent many years defending clients in criminal matters from those arrested and interviewed in the police station, to those appearing in major Crown Court trials, he has gained an impressive knowledge of assisting people who find themselves caught up in the complex world of the criminal justice system.
Mark understands how easy it is to have a single lapse of judgement or be overwhelmed by an arrest and police station attendance that can result in a criminal record for life.
His realistic advice and approachable manner has made him a sought after specialist in representing people from across the country and from all walks of life who need to clear their PNC record of adult or youth cautions, warnings or reprimands that are holding them back with their life or career plans.
‘Most people see accepting a caution when accused of a minor offence as the best way out of a very stressful situation, not realising the far reaching impact this will have upon them when they need to undertake a DBS check. My role is to try to give them back their good character for all future checks.’
Get in touch
If you would like to discuss the possible removal of a police caution from your record, please get in touch with one of our specialist caution removal solicitors. You can:
- Request a free call back using the form on the right
- Phone us during office hours on 0333 888 4040
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who Can Help You?
What we do...
Our experienced solicitors have a proven track record of assisting clients to get police cautions removed from their records so that offences committed years ago do not continue to affect their daily lives.