Daily Mail: The Serial Offenders Getting Away With Serial Cautions

Wednesday, 23 December, 2009

Hundreds of serial offenders are being given as many as nine or ten police cautions in a year rather than being taken to court.

Figures obtained by the Conservatives show that the number of criminals receiving more than one caution in a year has increased from 28,256 in 2000 to 43,512 in 2008, an increase of 54 per cent.

The number receiving nine cautions in a single year has increased by 33 per cent, from 45 in 2000 to 60 in 2008, and the number handed ten or more has increased by 74 per cent, from 137 in 2000 to 238 in 2008.

Parliamentary questions have revealed that over the period between 2000 and 2008, a total of 1,873 people have received ten or more cautions and 638 have received nine cautions.

Last year the Home Office told police that offenders could be handed one caution after another for the same 'trivial' offence.

But critics say more and more burglars, muggers, violent attackers and other criminals repeatedly avoid court and the risk of jail. Conservative police spokesman David Ruffley , who uncovered the data, said: 'Offenders should not be receiving nine or more cautions in just twelve months.

'Soaring numbers of police cautions for repeat offenders means they are not going to court as most people would expect.

'Many police say that this is because the Crown Prosecution Service can be risk averse when deciding to take a case to court. That is why the Conservatives propose to give the power back to the police to charge rather than caution in more cases. Repeat offenders should expect to face court not a slap on the wrist.'

A Government spokesman said: 'Cautions enable police to deal swiftly with low-level offending, freeing them for frontline duties and freeing court time for more serious offences.

'However, it is vital they are used appropriately and consistently by police, and we are reviewing the use of cautions and on-the-spot fines.'