Rapists, paedophiles, and drug dealers among those CAUTIONED by police in West Midlands and Staffordshire
Rapists, paedophiles and drug dealers are among offenders being ‘let off’ with cautions in the West Midlands and Staffordshire
More than 8,000 cautions, where a criminal admits an offence, have been issued in the West Midlands force area over the last two years and 10,000 in Staffordshire since 2013, including for sexual offences against children.
The figures were today branded as ‘sickening’ by campaigners.
The information, released under the Freedom of Information Act, shows cautions were issued in the West Midlands:
l 49 times for sexual offences on women aged 13 and older and once for a rape of a girl aged between 13 and 15
l 189 times for wilful neglect of a child
l eight times when adults had sexual activity with a girl
l eight times for carrying imitation firearms or air guns.
But police today stressed the information in the FOI shouldn’t be taken ‘out of context’ and that cautions carry ‘real sanctions’ with ‘long-term implications’.
The figures show that hundreds of drug users were issued with cautions, including one case of possession of crystal meth, 270 cases of cocaine, 25 crack cocaine, 51 heroin, and 902 for cannabis. A total of 19 drug dealers were also cautioned.
Five cautions were issued for keeping a brothel for prostitution, on 10 occasions where there had been a ‘threat to kill’, and 83 cases of possessing offensive weapons. There was also one caution issued for bigamy.
Staffordshire Police revealed three people have been cautioned for raping children.
Cautions were also issued 22 times for possession of a firearm, and a further four times for possession of a firearm with intent in the county. There were 40 cautions for acts of cruelty to children, 70 cautions for possessing a blade, and a staggering 312 times for trafficking controlled drugs.
Campaigner Ian Jenkins used an FOI to reveal the figures. The Midlands Liberal Democrat activist said: “It is completely unacceptable to give cautions for rape or sexual assaults, including children. It is sickening and will make people think that evil paedophiles and abusers can commit these acts, effectively be let off, and then be able are free to walk our streets. Cautions used for these crimes will lead to the public questioning whether the justice system is on the side of the law-abiding.”
“There are no mitigating factors and no excuses. They should go before a court and the victims deserve justice.”
Superintendent Paul Minor from West Midlands Police’s criminal justice department, said: “Cautions for serious offences should only be used in exceptional circumstances, and after consideration by a senior officer or advice from prosecutors.
"Cautions are legitimate criminal justice outcomes, with real sanctions attached, and have long-term implications, such as notification on pre-employment checks.
“But it’s important to look at these statistics in context. For example, one caution was issued for the offence of Possessing a Firearm. That could appear shocking – but in reality the ‘firearm’ was a CS canister found in the possession of a Polish man. It is not illegal to possess the spray in his home country, and he had no previous convictions, so a caution was considered appropriate.
“As part of our focus on intervention and prevention we are adopting, where possible, the practice of issuing conditional cautions following an assessment of an offender’s behaviour and referral into appropriate treatment to prevent reoffending; pilots have shown this approach can reduce reoffending more effectively than a court appearance.
“Victims of crime are at the heart of what we do – and as part of the Victim Code we offer them the opportunity to influence the conditions attached to these disposals.”
Staffordshire Police was approached for comment.
A simple caution is a formal notice, issued by a police officer, once someone has admitted an offence. A conditional caution is similar but the person must also agree to stick to certain conditions which may include paying compensation to the victim or issuing an apology for the offence.
While a police caution is not technically classed as a criminal conviction, the details are retained by the police for future reference and can be taken into account by a magistrate or a judge if the person is convicted of a further offence in the future.
Cautions may be disclosed to current or prospective employers and must be declared if the person is involved in certain roles such as working with children or vulnerable adults.
Cautions are also made available to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) which has replaced the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).
Accepting a caution can affect someone’s ability to travel and work outside the European Union, with some countries reserving the right to refuse entry visas.