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The Conditional Caution


Provision for Conditional Cautioning is one of the measures introduced by the Criminal Justice Act, 2003. (CJA 2003, Part 3, sections 22-27).

A Conditional Caution is a new disposal available for adults who are willing to admit their guilt. The scheme is aimed at cases where the public interest would be met more effectively by offenders carrying out specified conditions (which are attached to a Caution) rather than being prosecuted. The conditions must help rehabilitate the offender and/ or ensure that he or she makes reparation for the effects of the offence on the victim or the wider community. Offenders who fail to comply with the conditions will usually be prosecuted for the original offence.

Conditional Cautions will not replace the non-statutory police caution (now known as the 'Simple Caution'), which will continue to be used in appropriate circumstances.

Ministers have agreed that there will be a staged approach to implementation. Conditional Cautions will initially be rolled out in a limited number of sites to allow for evaluation of the processes and assessment of the effectiveness of different approaches to Conditional Cautioning.

The operation of the scheme is governed by a Code of Practice, which has been formally approved by Parliament, following a period of public consultation. Use of Conditional Cautions is controlled by the Director of Public Prosecution's Guidance on the Administration of Conditional Cautions (the DPP's Guidance on Conditional Cautions).

The administration of a Conditional Caution is treated as an offence brought to justice, and its recording can contribute to improved public confidence in the criminal justice system.