Enforcement policy

Simple caution

The simple caution may be used as an alternative to prosecution. It is an admission of guilt, but is not a form of sentence, nor is it a criminal conviction.

The aims of a simple caution are:

  • To offer a proportionate response to low level offending where the offender has admitted the offence;
  • To deliver swift, simple, and effective justice that carries a deterrent effect.
  • To record an individual’s offences for the reference in future formal action.
  • To reduce the likelihood of re-offending;
  • To increase the amount of time officers spend dealing with more serious offences and reduce the amount of time officers spend completing paperwork and attending court, whilst simultaneously reducing the burden on the courts.

For a simple caution to be issued a number of criteria must be satisfied:

  • Sufficient evidence must be available to prove the case
  • The offender must admit the offence
  • It must be in the public interest to use a simple caution
  • The offender must be 18 years old or over

The offender should not have received a simple caution for similar offence within the last 2 years.

The investigating officer in agreement with the delegated departmental manager or supervisor will determine if a simple caution is the most appropriate form of sanction having regard to the recommendations from the case meeting. The individual or company concerned will be advised of the decision and requested to confirm acceptance. The ‘cautioning officer’ for offences will be the delegated departmental manager or supervisor.

A record of the simple caution will be kept on file for two years. If the offender commits a further offence, the simple caution may influence our decision to proceed to prosecution. If during the time the caution is in force the offender pleads guilty to, or is found guilty of, committing another offence anywhere in England and Wales the caution may be cited in the court, and this may influence the severity of the sentence that the court imposes.