Minor crimes are set to be punished with a system of suspended prosecutions under government plans to scrap the use of cautions.
The Ministry of Justice announced on 1 November that the new approach would be piloted for a year in the Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and Leicestershire police force areas and, if successful, could be rolled out across England and Wales.
Under the planned new system, police would normally have two out of court remedies available to them.
Community resolutions are aimed at first-time offenders involved in minor offences. They would give victims a say in how they want the offender to be dealt with, for example by offering an apology or paying financial compensation
For more serious offences, a suspended prosecution would mean that the offender has to face court if they fail to comply with one or more conditions attached, such as paying a fine or attending a rehabilitation course.
The use of the simple caution, where an offender simply accepts a caution with no immediate consequences for doing so, would end.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “It isn’t right that criminals who commit lower-level crime can be dealt with by little more than a warning. It’s time we put an end to this country’s cautions culture.
“I think every crime should have a consequence, and this change will deliver that. 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. Victims should not feel like offenders are walking away scot-free.”
Palmers’ partner Jeremy Sirrell, who leads the firm’s criminal defence team, said:
“This new system will make it even more important that those being investigated by the police make sure that they get appropriate advice at the time, and without delay, to ensure that the best outcome is achieved and bad decisions avoided.
“At Palmers, we recognise that even a criminal conviction for a minor offence can potentially have far-reaching consequences in all aspects of someone’s life.
“For that reason, we work only with clients on a private basis, which enables us to give all the time and attention necessary to best advise and represent those under investigation or charged with offences, with a focus on achieving the best outcome. For more information on our Criminal Defence services, please contact us.”