Conditional Cautions for Young Offenders

A pilot scheme, which has been running in certain areas of the UK since 2010, has now been rolled out nationally to provide an opportunity for young offenders to be dealt with by way of a Youth Conditional Caution (YCC).

Such a caution is designed to be a further opportunity for young people to be dealt with in a way which prevents them from having to go to court.

Previously, young people who have had no previous dealings with the Criminal Justice System could avoid going to court only if a reprimand or a final warning was issued.  Whether such a disposal can be achieved is dependent on the offence being a relatively minor one, and admissions to the offence being made in interview.  Once a young person has received a reprimand and/or a final warning, at present the only option on further offending thereafter is for the police to charge him or her and for them to attend court.

Attending court as a young person can be a frightening experience and, as such, the new initiative to introduce the Youth Conditional Caution as an additional way of diverting young people away from that scenario can only be welcome news.

A YCC will be considered where a young person has made admissions in interview, and has already received a reprimand or final warning, or in cases where a first offence is too serious to be dealt with by one of those two methods.  The prosecutor will consider a number of factors in deciding whether such a caution can be offered; these will include the seriousness of the offence, any views expressed by the victim, and the willingness of the young person to comply with the proposed conditions.  If the conditions are not complied with, the case will be referred back to the Prosecution to consider a charge, which is likely to then result in a court appearance.

There is never any guarantee of being offered a caution and, even if one is offered, it should not be accepted without careful consideration of the consequences of accepting it.  As such, it is always important to seek legal advice when you are arrested.  If you would like further information on any of the issues raised, please contact and ask for a member of the Criminal Defence team.