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Home Office Explores Cautioning

The Home Office has released a consultation paper on a code of practice for conditional cautioning as an alternative to prosecution. Conditional cautioning is found in the Criminal Justice Act of 2003, which provides for the creation of a code of practice to be approved to by both Houses of Parliament.

Prior to parliamentary approval, the Home Office has published a draft of the code of practice for public comment.  

The Conditional Cautioning Code of Practice

  • sets out as the basic criteria for a conditional caution that the suspect is 18 or over, that he/she admits the offence, and that there is enough evidence to charge;
  • explains that it is the ‘relevant prosecutor’ (usually the CPS) who determines whether a conditional caution is appropriate;
  • advises that a conditional caution will usually be appropriate where conditions that facilitate the rehabilitation of the offender or ensure that the offender makes reparation for the offence, or both, will provide a proportionate response to the offence bearing in mind the public interest;
  • makes clear that only exceptionally should a person who has recently been cautioned for a similar offence be given a conditional caution;
  • requires that a suspect should have made a clear and reliable admission under a cautioned interview before the prospect of a conditional caution is mentioned;
  • explains that conditions must be proportionate, achievable and appropriate, and have reparation or rehabilitation as their objectives, and that a deadline should be set for their completion;
  • requires that it should be a standard condition not to re-offend within the period of the conditional caution;
  • emphasises the importance of robust monitoring of an offender’s compliance with conditions, requiring as a standard condition that they co-operate with monitoring arrangements, and report any failure to complete conditions and the reasons for this;
  • sets out the action to be taken in the event of non-compliance; the decision will rest with the prosecutor, but the usual outcome will be prosecution for the original offence;
  • encourages contact with victims to ascertain their views; and
  • includes guidance about the use of Restorative Justice processes, for those areas which choose to deliver conditional cautions in a restorative manner[1].

The Home Office requests that responses to the draft code of practice be returned by 31 March 2004. For more information see the consultation documents at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/inside/consults/current/index.html or contact the Home Office: 

Chukwuma Uju

Home Office

Room 356

50 Queen Anne’s Gate

London SW1H 9AT

Tel: 020 7273 4316

Fax: 020 7273 4505

E-mail: Chukwuma.Uju@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk  

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