March 15 2014 Latest news:
Colin Adwent and Paul Geater
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Questions are to be asked about the issuing of multiple police cautions after one Suffolk offender was given six in 12 months.
Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley and Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore spoke of their concerns after it was revealed 211 people in the county were given more than one caution in a year.
Suffolk Constabulary figures show that during 2012/13 three offenders received five cautions, while six were given four, and 20 received three.
Police have stressed cautions are only given in accordance with guidelines and are not offered if the perpetrator has already received one for the same offence.
In addition, any potential action against a juvenile is assessed differently to that against an adult.
Officers were unable to say whether the person with six cautions was a youth or not without further extensive checks being made.
The 211 police cautions accepted by offenders on two or more occasions equate to more than 10% of the 2,105 issued in 2012/13.
Mr Ruffley, a former shadow policing minister, said: “I certainly think the principle of three strikes and you’re out should apply. I understand the idea of a caution is that it is a warning to people to ensure they do not offend again.
“Clearly if people are getting multiple cautions they have not learned their lesson and they should then be prosecuted for their later offences.”
Mr Ruffley said he would be writing to Mr Passmore to try to get more information about the policy on the cautions - and to attempt to establish what their offences were.
He said: “We need to know if any of those given multiple cautions were for offences like common assault or affray - or for attempted shoplifting or aggressive begging.
“There are occasions when it is right for the police to issue a caution, but it has to be seen as warning, an indication that the offender cannot expect more leniency and clearly there are some offenders who are not learning that lesson.”
Mr Passmore said: “It is entirely appropriate to issue a caution in most circumstances and I have every confidence in Suffolk’s officers to resolve matters in this way.
“It is worrying however to see that one person appears to have been let off with a warning half a dozen times so I will be asking for detailed analysis to ensure that public confidence and trust is not undermined.
“I do believe that first time offenders deserve a second chance, but these figures are worrying and contradict the idea of a warning if repeat offenders are receiving so many cautions without any further action being taken. I feel this sends out the wrong message.
“I want the constabulary to deal with crime in a robust and consistent way and will be discussing this issue with the chief constable at our first meeting in the new year so I can be sure persistent offenders are being dealt with appropriately.”
Detective Inspector Zoe Finn, who is in charge of Suffolk’s custody investigation units, stressed there are a number of reasons why a caution would be given instead of pursuing a prosecution.
These included adherence to official guidelines, whether it was in the public interest or the victim’s interest to prosecute, and the severity of the offence committed.
Det Insp Finn added: “The question we need to be asking ourselves is do we need to criminalise this individual for this offence at this particular time.
“From the police perspective we ensure we comply with policy, procedures, and Crown Prosecution Service guidelines, and whether it is the best outcome for the victim and the offender is also taken into consideration when a decision is made to give a police caution.”