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Police cautions to be reviewed following concerns about over-use

The use of police cautions in England and Wales is to be reviewed, the Government has announced, as some serious offences may be better dealt with by the courts.

Around a third of all serious offences are cautioned, with 11,000 people receiving cautions for violent crime last year, according to the chair of the Magistrates’ Association.

The review could lead to cautions being ruled out for certain offences.

The justice minister, Damian Green, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday: “Serious and repeat criminals shouldn't expect to escape with a caution, so we're not only launching this review, we have also changed the guidance.

“It may be that the guidelines were not clear enough in the past and the new guidance we are issuing actually does provide more specific guidance on the exceptional circumstances when you can give a caution even if there is a serious offence committed.

“It may well be something to do with the mental health or the age of the offender. You do have to give that ultimate decision to the police officer involved but I do think in terms of having general confidence in the system it is clear, on the whole, you only want cautions to be used for low-level offences for first-time offenders and so on.”

MoJ figures show there were 205,700 cautions in the 12 months to September 2012, down 12% on the preceding 12 months.

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Mr Brown   08/04/2013 at 12:56

This is much needed - there are many cautions given for violent crime in our area. A caution is far to reasonable a punishment for violent crime - it does not motivate the offender to rethink their behaviour. Also the root cause of violent crime often stems from alcohol and drug abuse and so a court would be able to identify this and insist that the offender resolve these issues.

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