Tighter direction for use of police cautions unveiled by UK Government
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will publish a draft code of practice on Wednesday, governing how police respond to low-level offences such as shoplifting, drug possession, and theft.
These guidelines aim to provide clarity to law enforcement officers, focusing on rehabilitation and fair punishment while promising the strict prosecution of serious criminals.
Police are to be given stricter guidelines on when they can issue cautions, as part of an effort to increase the prosecution of serious offenders.
Shoplifting, drug possession and theft are among the types of crime for which first-time offenders could receive a caution instead of being sent to court.
The new draft Code of Practice will replace the previously inconsistent cautioning system with a simplified two-tier structure. Community Cautions (lower tier) can result in fines for breaches, while Diversionary Cautions (upper tier) can lead to prosecution for the original offence.
Justice Minister Damian Hinds explained that the new approach will ensure consistency in law enforcement and reinforce the commitment to pursue serious offenders through the courts.
“This simplified system will ensure victims see justice being delivered, better nip lower-level criminality in the bud and guarantee the most serious offenders always face the full glare of the courtroom,” Hinds said.
The framework, introduced through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, will support targeted interventions such as unpaid work, drug treatment courses, or compensation payments to victims.
Unique to the new system, both tiers of cautions must be issued with meaningful conditions focusing on rehabilitation or restitution to the victim or community.
This consideration of victims’ perspectives is being hailed as a positive step towards a more compassionate justice system.
Cmdr Dr. Alison Heydari, NPCC Lead for Out of Court Resolutions, expressed enthusiasm for the changes: “I am delighted that we are moving into the next phase of the delivery of the new cautions framework. The strategic intention is to support, educate and rehabilitate where it is appropriate to do so leading to better life outcomes for families, communities and wider society.”
The guidelines also define serious crimes, like the use of offensive or bladed weapons, as excluded offences, underscoring the Government’s firm stance that such crimes must be dealt with in the courts.
The revamp aims to empower police officers to swiftly address low-level offences while assuring the public that serious criminals will be prosecuted rigorously.
The consultation will launch today outlining operational guidance for the use, administration, and scrutiny of the new cautions. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com