Children aged 10 – 17 years old can be given a Youth Conditional Caution by the police as an alternative to a formal caution or custodial sentence if they admit to a criminal offence.
A Youth Conditional Caution is a formal warning that is kept on record by the police and contains at least one condition that the young person has to meet / complete. The Youth Conditional Caution scheme was introduced to reduce the number of cases going to court for low-level offences and to provide an opportunity for an early positive response to offending behaviour.
The conditions within the caution generally focus on rehabilitation, in order to make the young offender take responsibility for their actions and understand the impact the offence has had on their victim(s). The conditional caution aims to address the underlying behaviours and causes that led to the offence and to change the offending behaviour through conditions that provide swift reparation to victims and communities.
When will a Youth Conditional Caution be issued?
If a young person is to be given a conditional caution, they must be accompanied by an appropriate adult. It is important to seek specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
For a conditional caution to be given, it must be shown that:
- There is evidence that the young person has committed an offence
- The evidence must be sufficient for them to be charged
- The young person must not deny that they have committed the offence
Where the young person shows genuine remorse and indicates a willingness to be cautioned and to comply with the proposed conditions, it is likely that a Youth Conditional Caution will be considered. A conditional caution will not be considered appropriate for a young person that fails to take responsibility and shows no remorse.
Before the caution is issued, it will be explained to the young person that if they do not comply with the conditions then they will be charged for the original offence. The explanation and warning must be given in the presence of an appropriate adult. The young person will then sign a document that sets out the details of the offence, consenting to the conditional caution.
All young people who receive a Youth Conditional Caution will have been referred to the relevant Youth Offending Team.
Examples of conditions
The conditions attached to a Youth Conditional Caution must have one or more of the following objectives – rehabilitation, reparation or punishment and must be appropriate, proportionate and achievable. Such conditions could include:
- Attendance at an anger management programme
- Carrying out restorative work in the local community where the offence took place
- Participating in a drugs or alcohol abuse programme
- Mental health support
- Being restricted from being in certain areas or with certain people
- Meeting with the victim to understand the impact of the offence
- Writing a letter of apology
- Paying a financial penalty (less common)
The conditional caution is not voluntary and the offender must attend any meetings with the Youth Offending Team and carry out any of the conditions that have been set. If the offender fails to adhere to the programme then the case will be referred back to the courts.
How long do the conditions last?
The conditions will generally be no longer than 16 weeks, except in specific circumstances.
A conditional caution that contains conditions lasting for less than three months becomes spent on the date the conditions are met.
A Youth Conditional Caution with conditions that last for three months or more becomes spent three months after the date the caution is given.
Will a Youth Conditional Caution mean you have a criminal record?
A Youth Conditional Caution is not a conviction but a formal criminal justice disposal. It comes under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1994 and does not need to be disclosed – unless you are asked specifically if you have ever received a caution.
Although the caution becomes spent as set out above, it will still appear on an enhanced criminal record check. For example, if you wish to work with children and are asked to complete a full Disclosure and Barring Service, then the Youth Conditional Caution would show up, even after it is spent.
Contact Wells Burcombe
For support and advice, contact Well’s Burcombe’s youth offender defence experts at the earliest opportunity. Call our offices in West Drayton on 01895 449288 or St Albans on 01727 840900.