Conditional Cautioning

Legal Guidance

Conditional Cautions are a statutory disposal introduced for adults by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and for youths by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and are operated under Statutory Codes of Practice.

The Codes of Practice requires the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue supporting guidance in respect of both adult and youths. Offences suitable for Conditional Cautioning are set out in the DPP's Guidance for adult and youth offenders. [link to ]

Conditional Cautions are one of a range of out-of-court disposals and provide an effective, swift and speedy resolution in appropriate cases.

A Conditional Caution is issued if the offender admits the offence and accepts the condition(s). If the conditions are complied with or completed within the timescales determined, the case is finalised and there is no prosecution. If, however, the conditions are not complied with, a prosecution may follow.

A Conditional Caution differs from a simple caution as there are certain conditions that must be complied with in order to avoid prosecution for the offence committed.

Prior to 8 April 2013 a Crown Prosecutor decided whether a Conditional Caution was an appropriate disposal for an offender aged 18 or over following a consultation with the police.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 introduced changes to the Conditional Caution scheme. These came into effect on 8th April 2013 and include:

  1. The removal of the requirement for a Prosecutor to authorise adult and youth Conditional Cautions;
  2. The introduction of the adult foreign offender conditions.
  3. The introduction of the Youth Conditional Caution (YCC)for 10-17 year olds throughout England and Wales.

Under these arrangements, the police can now issue a Conditional Caution for any offence, excluding Indictable Only Offences and offences involving hate crime and domestic violence.

The decision to issue a Conditional Caution for any Indictable Only offence must be taken by the CPS and only in exceptional circumstances. These are set out in the DPP's Guidance. The other exception is a controlled pilot that that commenced in 2012 in part of the Hampshire police force area to assess the impact of issuing an adult Conditional Caution for adult domestic violence offences. Such cases must be referred to the CPS for decision.