Police Cautions

Justice written question – answered on 9th July 2014.

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Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many cautions have been issued for offences of (a) murder, (b) rape, (c) sexual assault, (d) robbery and (e) burglary in (i) each year between 2010 and 2013 and (ii) each month since January 2013. [Official Report, 1 September 2014, Vol. 585, c. 2-8MC.]

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

The number of offenders (including young people) cautioned, for offences of rape, sexual assault, robbery and burglary, by months in England and Wales from 2010 to 2013 (latest available) can be viewed in the table. There were no cautions administered for murder.

Simple cautions (previously police cautions) are a non-statutory disposal available to the police to dispose of any offence committed by an adult and designed for dealing with low level, mainly first time offending. The Government does not believe that cautions are appropriate for serious offences. We issued new guidelines on 14 November 2014 following a detailed review of how cautions were being used by police forces, and are strengthening the law to prevent cautions being used for serious offences.

The Ministry of Justice issues guidance on the process to be followed by the police and the CPS when they are administering simple cautions for adult offenders. This guidance states that the use of a simple caution for indictable only offences, such as rape, should only be given following authorisation by the CPS. These will be cases where there were exceptional circumstances which would mean that it was not in the public interest to prosecute.

The overall number of simple cautions issued has halved since 2007. The cautioning rate, that is, the number of offenders cautioned as a percentage of offenders who were either cautioned or convicted, in 2013 was 20%; this has declined from a peak of 31% in 2007.

The Government is clear that serious offences should always be brought to court and to ensure that there is increased public confidence in the justice system last year announced limits on the use of simple cautions. These changes restrict the use of cautions for indictable only offences and certain serious either way offences unless there are exceptional circumstances and a senior police officer, as well as the CPS for certain cases, has agreed that a caution should be administered.

The MOJ guidance on Adult Simple Cautions was amended in November last year to reflect these changes, and we are currently legislating in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill to place statutory restrictions around their use.

Offenders cautioned1,2 for selected offences, by month, England and Wales, 2010-20133
  Offences Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Total
2010 Murder
  Sexual assault4 53 31 38 40 54 58 46 57 51 46 49 24 547
  Rape5 3 4 3 6 4 2 5 2 5 1 35
  Burglary6 253 245 271 278 321 332 358 297 348 290 301 190 3,484
  Robbery7 6 4 24 19 23 27 27 13 18 14 19 13 207
  Total (all) 315 280 337 337 401 423 435 369 422 352 374 228 4,273
                             
2011 Murder
  Sexual assault4 41 56 60 53 54 55 64 52 44 42 49 42 612
  Rape5 1 1 4 1 2 2 2 2 1 2 1 19
  Burglary6 237 229 290 268 339 340 303 311 286 259 212 3,359
  Robbery7 14 28 35 31 29 21 20 17 27 21 15 11 269
  Total (all) 293 314 389 353 370 417 426 374 382 350 325 266 4,259
                             
2012 Murder
  Sexual assault4 44 34 46 35 55 38 46 50 60 38 56 50 552
  Rape5 1 2 2 1 1 4 1 1 3 16
  Burglary (6) 221 187 205 197 224 218 282 259 218 195 189 136 2,531
  Robbery7 12 20 18 13 11 17 11 18 23 16 19 10 188
  Total (all) 278 243 271 245 291 274 339 331 301 250 265 199 3,287
                             
2013 Murder
  Sexual assault4 58 49 47 46 36 41 59 53 55 34 45 45 568
  Rape5 1 5 3 1 2 4 3 1 20
  Burglary6 167 153 152 145 208 196 185 175 177 153 143 119 1,973
  Robbery7 10 10 13 13 13 8 19 5 10 4 3 11 119
  Total (all) 236 212 217 207 257 245 264 235 246 194 191 176 2,680
1 The cautions statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When an offender has been cautioned for two or more offences at the same time the principal offence is the more serious offence. 2 From 1 June 2000 the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 came into force nationally and removed the use of cautions for persons under 18 and replaced them with reprimands and warnings. These figures have been included in the totals. 3 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used. 4 Sexual Offences Act 2003, s2, s3, s6, s7 5 Sexual Offences Act 2003, s1, s5 6 Theft Act 1968, s.9, S.9(1)(a), S.9(1)(b), S.9 (1)(a) or (b), S.10 7 Theft Act 1968, S.8 Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services—Ministry of Justice

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