May 24 2013 Latest news:
By Matt Stott
Friday, March 8, 2013
HUNDREDS of violent criminals, burglars and drug offenders are being let off with police cautions – prompting claims victims are not seeing justice being done.
The crimes are disclosed in a breakdown of offences where cautions, reprimands and warnings are being issued, which the EADT can reveal following a request under Freedom of Information laws.
According to Suffolk Police, 3,004 violent offenders were given just a caution between 2010 and 2012, as were 1,085 thieves, 896 drug offenders, 71 burglars and five robbers.
The figures also showed 115 people were cautioned for fraud and forgery charges and 496 for criminal damage offences.
Last month the EADT revealed 58 cautions were handed out to sex offenders in the same three-year period.
MP Priti Patel said she was alarmed by the figures, claiming the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system could now be under threat of being compromised. The Witham MP said: “Nothing worse undermines the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system more than when we see so many cautions being handed out to criminals by police.
“We have to think first and foremost about the victims of crimes and they want to feel protected – they want to see their offenders in courts and facing the judges.
“It is important offenders receive the right kind of punishment and it is not acceptable that the people who have committed these crimes are put back into the community.
“The public want to feel protected and safe and the victims want to see some justice being done – but there isn’t any justice putting them back into the community and giving them cautions.
“It’s going to alarm a lot of people that these offenders are allowed back in society. Repeat offenders are not being properly punished if they keep getting these cautions.”
In total, police issued 6,105 cautions between 2010 and 2012, in addition to 1,374 reprimands and 2,104 warnings.
Cautions dropped from 2,162 in 2010 to 1,860 in 2012 – a 14% decrease. Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said victims can only develop a sense of closure if they can see justice being done.
He said: “Victims don’t always want harsh punishments, but they do want the response to fit the crime and make sure the offender doesn’t do it again.
“Although it’s up to the police to decide on when to give a caution, victims need to have these decisions clearly explained to them.
“Ultimately victims want to see justice done.”
Guidelines say police can issue cautions to offenders who admit their crimes where circumstances such as the age, welfare or mental state of the victim or criminal means it is not in the public interest to prosecute.
A Suffolk police spokesman said: “Any investigation that is concluded with a caution is only done so after careful consideration of all the available facts. A strict cautioning criteria is robustly adhered to prior to any person receiving a formal caution.”