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Cautions scrapped in system revamp.

CAUTIONS are set to be scrapped in Wales and England as part of an overhaul of out-ofcourt disposals.

Ministers want to replace existing disposals available to police officers, which include cautions and cannabis warnings, with a new two-tier approach requiring offenders to take one or more actions.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the revamp, which at the bottom-end would see offenders writing an apology to victims or repairing damages but could see more serious offences being fined, removes the "soft option".

Three police force areas will test the new approach over the next 12 months and if successful it will be replicated across the country.

The Justice Secretary said: "Under the new system we are introducing, offenders will face prosecution if they fail to comply with the conditions set by the police, so that no-one is allowed to get away with the soft option."

Conditional cautions, simple cautions, penalty notices for disorder, cannabis and khat warnings and community resolutions will be replaced by a new framework.

First-time offenders who commit minor crimes will face a new statutory community resolution, which could see an offender offering a verbal or written apology to the victim, making reparation, such as fixing damages, or paying financial compensation. More serious offending will be dealt with by a suspended prosecution, which will have one or more conditions attached such as a fine or attending a rehabilitation course.

As with the current system, police officers will use their judgment to assess an offence.

Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and Leicestershire police forces will trial the proposed system.

National policing lead on out-of-court disposals Chief Constable Lynne Owens said: "Any reform must aim to simplify it in order to assist public understanding and reduce bureaucracy.

"The pilots seek to test a new approach which gives officers and staff the discretion to deal with cases appropriately."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 1, 2014
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