Police cautions to be reviewed

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Police cautions to be reviewed

The use of police cautions for criminal offences in England and Wales is to be reviewed, the government has announced.   Cautions, issued at the discretion of police, are a way of sanctioning criminals without going to court.   But concerns have been raised that they are being used to deal with repeat offenders and for those who commit serious crimes, contrary to advice.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the review followed calls for “greater public confidence and transparency in police use of cautions for repeat offenders and for those who commit serious crimes”.   In a statement, the MoJ said it would examine:

•Existing guidance and practice relating to cautions

•Whether there are offences where use of cautions would be “inappropriate” – and if so, what should be used instead

•Reasons why multiple cautions are given to some criminals

•The difference in their use by different police forces – and whether increased scrutiny is needed to ensure they are used consistently

•The impact on individuals of accepting a caution, including how it might affect future employment

The MoJ said it was working with the Home Office and Attorney General’s Office, and the review would closely involve the police, Crown Prosecution Service, victims’ organisations, the judiciary and the legal community.   The review will report back to ministers by the end of May.

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