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Metropolitan Police Service

Police warnings, cautions and fines

Under the heading, "How do the police deal with minor crimes?" POLICE.UK says:

"The police can decide to deal with a minor crime by giving:

    • a caution or warning
    • a police fine, called a penalty notice
    • a community resolution

The victim sometimes agrees to accept an apology if it's a minor incident."

Though true, this is an over-simplification as these actions are recorded locally and/ or on the Police National Computer (PNC) and may have serious implications for you further down the line.

For example:

  • You have to admit an offence and agree to be cautioned
  • You can be arrested and charged if you don't agree
  • While a caution is not a criminal conviction, it could be used as evidence of 'bad character' if you go to court for another crime
  • Cautions can show on standard and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

If a person decides not to accept the caution the police officer must

  • Ensure that they understand that they do not need to make an immediate decision (they could go away and think about it)
  • Ensure that they have had the opportunity of receiving free and independent legal advice
  • Confirm they consent to receiving the caution in which case they must sign a form confirming so, a copy of which they can take away with them

Bottom line: get legal advice wherever/ whenever you can before agreeing to or signing anything.

Your criminal record | Nacro
Police caution | Wikipedia

Everything you need to know about police cautions | Bindmans
Police cautions, warnings and penalty notices | GOV.UK
How long does a police caution stay on your record? |

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