Nearly 30,000 cautions were handed to criminals by the UK’s biggest police force in the year to March for offences including robbery, drug trafficking and rape, new figures revealed today.
According to figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request by London Assembly member Tony Arbour, the Metropolitan Police issued 28,998 cautions in the period, a quarter of all solved crimes in the capital.
Among the cautions issued, 5,843 were given for violent attacks, 165 were handed out for sexual offences and five were for rape.
Elsewhere, 180 offenders were cautioned for grievous bodily harm or wounding, 131 for robbery and 318 for drug trafficking.
Mr Arbour, a Conservative representing South West London on the Assembly, said: “The whole point of the British legal system is that justice should be seen to be done.
“However, a quarter of all solved crimes in London escape punishment.
“The 29,000 cautions and youth warnings given out in private during the last year demonstrate that criminals are getting away with increasingly serious crimes.
“The Crown Prosecution Service is not doing Londoners a service by allowing people who admit their guilt not to go to court.
“It is frustrating for police officers to find that time spent trawling through evidence and catching criminals is ultimately wasted because villains are not brought to justice.
“It is unfair on victims, and the fact that a law-abiding resident will receive the same or even worse punishment for minor traffic offences as drug traffickers, robbers and rapists is simply outrageous.”
Police handed out 205,700 cautions nationwide in the 12 months ending in September 2012, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Justice.
It represented a 12% decrease compared with the previous 12 months, and a 44% fall from the 12 months to September 2007 when the use of cautions peaked at 367,300.
Last month, Policing Minister Damian Green announced a review of guidelines for issuing police cautions as part of a wider crackdown.
Mr Green said the Government’s goal was to see the use of cautions restricted to ensure serious criminals would never escape punishment.
Javed Khan, chief executive of the independent charity Victim Support, said: “Victims across London tell us they want the response to fit the crime and for that response to make sure the offender doesn’t do it again.
“Although it is ultimately up to the police to decide on when to give a caution, victims must have decisions explained to them in order to retain their confidence in the police and other criminal justice agencies.
“The police need to be clear on when it is appropriate to give a caution – for example, this is not likely to be right for most violent and sexual offences.”
Metropolitan Police issues 29,000 cautions in a year