Scrapping police cautions could mean a greater focus on ‘restorative’ remedies such as cleaning graffiti.
So then, police cautions may well soon be heading for the scrap heap.
If all goes to plan during an upcoming trial by three English police forces, we will be making room for cautions next to rainproof macs, whistles and moustaches – items gradually retired as the police service moves forward.
The proposal is that rather than the police issue cautions, effectively official warnings for low level offences, we’ll adopt a system designed to give the victim more say in how we resolve crimes.
The Ministry of Justice promote the new system as simpler and propose that (prepare a hoorah) they’ll mean less bureaucracy for us officers to face.
Under the new system, we’ll be able to arrange compensation and apologies for minor crimes with offences deemed as being more serious being dealt with by way of ‘suspend prosecution’ under which we can steer offenders towards rehabilitation.
In my experience, the perception that cautions are seen by forces as the ‘easy option’ and are being issued where the offence is so serious that they are inappropriate doesn’t really ring true with how I’ve seen them used.
They have been a handy option for addressing low level offending where the offenders have had little previous involvement with the police.
This said, there’s always room for improvement and trying new things – if the new proposals give us the same flexibility to use a little common sense and at the same time, offer more for the victim then this is no bad thing.