Tuesday, 11 May 2010

One in three key violent crimes result in a caution

A THIRD of key violent crimes were dealt with by Solihull police through a caution in the last two years, figures obtained by The Silhillian show.

Of the 1,294 cases of actual bodily harm, common assault and grievous bodily harm with intent some 391 were given a caution in 2008 and 2009, 30 per cent.

A caution is a formal warning given to an adult who has admitted an offence. They face prosecution if they refuse to accept the caution.

And about 40 per cent of drug cases were dealt with by cautions, the figures show.

Click the headline or link below to read the rest of this story.

It comes after Justice Secretary Jack Straw recently launched a review of the cautions system after an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme.

Mr Straw said it was ‘absolutely not the case’ that cautions were being used to keep prison numbers down but wanted to ensure they were being used consistently by forces.

The Crown Prosecution Service recently issued guidance which said no violent crime more serious than common assault should be given a caution.

However, Solihull police gave 304 cautions for ABH in 2008 and 2009 – about a third of all ABH crimes – and 13 for GBH without intent, 21 per cent of all charges for this offence.

Two cautions were given for a sexual assault on a female compared to 34 charges.

About one in ten theft cases were given a caution, 220 compared to 1,464 charges.

Two counts of exposure or voyeurism dealt with by police last year ended with a caution. Five cautions were given for robbery and 162 were charged.

None were cautioned for rape, wounding or child sex offences.

Yet the figures – for all of the borough –show about a third of non-cannabis drug offences are dealt with through cautions, 40 out of 145.

This increases for cannabis offences, 160 out of 383, 42 per cent.

Guidance states cautions can be given for drug possession where police are satisfied the substance is for ‘personal use’.

The information was released by West Midlands Police to The Silhillian under the Freedom of Information Act. View the full figures here.

The force said: “These data should be interpreted with caution. Comparing numbers of crimes can be misleading and does not necessarily indicate the likelihood of someone being a victim of crime.

“In addition, the number of incidents/crimes recorded in an area over a period of time can be influenced by a number of factors.

“Consequently statistics on incidents/crimes for one period may not necessarily be a good indicator of future incidents in that area.”

It said the data may not be fully accurate as they were ‘extracted from large disparate administrative data systems used by forces for police purposes’.

This factors must be taken into account ‘so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material’.

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