A Guide to Getting a Police Caution Removed

Getting a police caution removed can be the difference between getting your next job or not. In this short guide, specialist solicitor Mark Hopwell provides insight into how to get a police caution removed.

In the 21 Century, having the best qualifications and putting in a sterling performance at interview 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.

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

Cautions will be disclosed on standard and enhanced DBS checks for six years, but 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 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?

Yes, a police caution can get deleted from the PNC (Police National Computer). 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 the delete your caution, it is possible to challenge that decision through Judicial Review proceedings at the Administrative Court.

Reasons to look into getting a caution removed

The reasons why a past 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 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.

Work with an expert to remove your caution

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 now 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 record deleted. 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.

Written by Mark Hopwell

Mark Hopwell is a solicitor at Richard Nelson LLP with over 20 years' experience. He now focuses on the removal of police cautions and professional disciplinary cases in healthcare and education, with previous experience leading national fraud, crime and regulatory teams.Read more about Mark Hopwell.

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