Can a simple caution be given on admission alone?

08 August 2018

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

Can a simple caution be given if a suspect makes an admission in interview, but no complaint has been made about the offence and there is no further evidence?

Answer:

An admission is a pre-requisite of issuing a simple caution, but there must also be sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction if the offender were to be prosecuted. A simple caution is offered as an alternative to a prosecution and so if a person refuses the caution offered, a prosecution should be commenced (which will require sufficient evidence). This is confirmed in the MOJ guidance document on 'Simple Cautions for Adult Offenders'.

In particular, note paragraphs 10 and 25, and the table in Annex A:

10. In addition, a simple caution may only be given if the decision-maker is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction if the offender were to be prosecuted.

25. A decision-maker may only decide that a simple caution is appropriate if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in respect of the offence if the offender were to be prosecuted. In doing so, the decision-maker may take any clear and reliable verbal or written admission by the offender to committing the offence into account. However, a simple caution must not be offered in order to secure an admission that could then provide sufficient evidence to meet the evidential limb of the Full Code test.

Annex A -

Simple caution must not be given

         

Where the person does not admit to committing the offence.

Where there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

Where the public interest requires a prosecution.

For an indictable-only offence, where a police officer of at least the rank of Superintendent has not determined that there are exceptional circumstances relating to the offender or the offence and/or where the CPS have not agreed that a caution should be given.

For an either-way offence specified by the Secretary of State, where a police officer of at least the rank of Inspector has not determined that there are exceptional circumstances relating to the offender or the offence. The either-way offences that have been specified by the Secretary of State are set out in annex B.

This is also the case for conditional cautions – see paragraphs 2.3 to 2.5 of the 'Criminal Justice Act 2003 - Code of Practice for Adult Conditional Cautions'.

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