January 25th, 2009

That’s OK, just don’t do it again!

Posted in The Job - General by 200

The Telegraph this week reports on the increase in offenders who are avoiding the court system in favour of a quick & easy caution.

A caution is basically a ‘telling-off’. It’s like being sent to the headmaster’s office.

Back in the day when I joined the job, cautions were almost exclusively for juvenile offenders who had never been in trouble with the law before. It was kind of like a ‘last chance’ before going to court & being saddled with a criminal record. After a caution, the next time you were in trouble it was the juvenile court, no questions.

They then decided that cautions could apply to young adults. I can’t remember the cut-off age but it may have been 21 or 24, so up until that age you had one ‘get out of jail free card’. Probably old age pensioners (as they used to be called) were afforded the same luxury.

Then they decided that it should apply to everyone and not only that, but you could get several cautions, they brought in reprimands, which sounded more serious but were the same, and ‘final warnings’, which weren’t always final. It was possible to get arrested several times without even sniffing the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service tea bar in the court foyer.

Some opposition MP has been getting their staff to research the figures which apparently show that 40% of offenders for ‘serious’ offences are cautioned. They define serious as an crown court offence or one triable by crown court or magistrates (so called ‘either way’) which basically includes everything except walking on the cracks in the pavement.

Eight police forces caution 50% or more of their offenders. Either there’s an awful lot of first time offenders being caught or a significant amount of criminals are going without any form of punishment or retribution. Probably, most of the cautions are for very minor offences, which will be no consolation to any of the victims. But significantly, people are routinely being cautioned for violence; some 56% of violent offenders escape prosecution this way. The paper says that in 2007 205,100 cautions were dished out including 276 woundings, 34 rapes or attempted rapes, 130 cases of sex with a child under 13 & 614 robberies.

Cautions save the country huge sums of cash but I’m not sure the true aims of justice should rest on the figures on a balance sheet. Neither that the policy is demonstration of that much forgotten (by the government) mantra of ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’.

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4 comments

  1. Boy on a bike says:

    Gordo seems intent on bankrupting your country by spending like a drunken lizard. Why not blow some of that dosh on extra prisons?

    January 26th, 2009 at 00:03

  2. constableconfused says:

    Just enjoy your retirement mate. You have done your bit it’s down to the rest of us to try and sort the rest of the mess out. God knows how it will happen. In the mere 560 weeks I have done it has got worse.

    All advice on brand new blog accepted, I’m not as political as the old ar%@s and welcome advice.

    The self serving over and done with (for me) ie the unashamed advertising. Enjoy the more money than ever thing and continue to use your wisdom as a civvy in the radio room. There are enough people out there who will welcome it. Best regards for your last moments and don’t forget they have been the best and worst times of you life outside of family matters. There are still things no doubt that need further explanantion that will never come.

    Keep on posting, you are a refreshing alternative to the rubbish that us relative sprogs listen too.

    John.

    PS just remember that more than 35 k in one place is not a good idea at the mo!

    January 26th, 2009 at 10:12

  3. Reactively Proactive says:

    614 cautions for robbery. Well, at least 2 of those were ones that I dealt with. To be fair, they were only worth a caution as well. 2 kids had an arguement with another (a friend) and ended up pushing him off his bike and riding it away. They then threw it into the canal to annoy him before becoming friends again a few days later. In the time in between though, this ‘robbery’ had been reported to us and had to be dealt with even though the complainant was now unwilling to assist with the prosection or go to court. The cautions were given out to keep everyone happy even though strictly speaking the suspects were not eligable. We got the detection, they didn’t go to court and the complainant couldn’t give a toss about his old bike which he had probably stolen himself.

    January 26th, 2009 at 17:16

  4. Plodnomore says:

    When the ‘impartial’ officer suggests a caution as an alternative to being charged, appearing in court and receiving a higher fine (or paying a brief 3 or 4 hundred notes to defend you) what they don’t say is that if you do accept a caution, you are admitting you have committed the offence (even if you haven’t). You still end up with a CRO number, a criminal record and your DNA on Gordy’s database which he can use to fit you up at a later date. One of the other blogs went into some detail as to what you should do if arrested – say nought, ask for a duty brief, etc – and this still stands the test of time. I am positive that all of the people I offered cautions to really had committed the offence, even if all the evidence had not been compiled at that time, and would like to think that, despite the targets set by SMT, I would not have offered a caution to anyone I felt was innocent. Based on conversations with ex colleagues still in the job it appears that the pressure to meet targets is so intense these days that many go for the option of an easy life and criminalise many who should not be. I am so glad I left when I did.

    January 27th, 2009 at 20:35

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