Removal of Police Cautions

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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 from the age of 10 years old.  Once a police caution has been issued, your records are held by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for six years (this is reduced to six years if you were 18 during the time of the caution was issued). Although a caution is not the same as a criminal conviction, it can still have serious implications to your 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. Our specialist solicitors have experience of assisting clients to get cautions removed from their records held by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).


Retention of Police Cautions
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How Far Back Does the Police National Computer Go?

Police cautions are retained indefinitely on the Police National Computer (PNC) for 100 years.

Retention of a caution on the PNC is different from disclosure on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Most cautions will be protected, “filtered” after six years on a standard or enhanced DBS – and are immediately “spent” for a basic disclosure. Some cautions however never become protected and will always be disclosed on an enhanced and standard check.

The only way a police caution will ever come off of the PNC is if it gets deleted.

Can a police caution be removed from the PNC?

Yes, a police caution can get deleted from the PNC. You will, however, need to prove that there are reasonable grounds to delete your police caution. You will need 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, then you would need to issue Judicial Review proceedings at the Administrative Court.

Can 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 from the PNC. 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, specific cautions will always be disclosed, no matter how much time has elapsed.

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 disclosed on background checks including DBS checks and immigration checks.

Some rules apply to the disclosure of a police caution after certain periods of time. Generall,y minor cautions will not be disclosed on a standard and enhanced checks after six years, but specific cautions may still be disclosed after six years on an enhanced check, and for the more serious types of offences, the caution will never be filtered of a DBS check.

There are also conditional cautions that 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.

What does it mean when a conviction/caution is “spent”?

A caution is “spent” as soon as it issued, which means on a basic DBS check, it will not show up. It will, however, show up on an enhanced and standard DSB check for six years. After six years it may continue to show up on an enhanced check, and certain cautions will always show up on both a standard and enhanced DBS check.

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

Who Can Help You?

mark hopwell.

Mark Hopwell


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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.

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