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  1. This has come up a few times recently and I was looking for some clarification. The special warnings are covered by S.37/S.38 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994: Legislation.gov link This seems to cover things like inferences being drawn from your presence at or near a crime scene with suspicious marks, matching footwear, being covered in blood, glass shards, etc. but I can't find any references to this special warning being required to be given post-arrest? Is it just given as per the normal use of the when and now caution?
  2. Up to 30% of the cautions, warnings and fixed penalty fines issued by the police are being used inappropriately to deal with serious offences and repeat offenders, say MPs. The Commons home affairs select committee says it is alarming that some police officers using cautions and warnings to deal with offences involving violence, sexual offending and domestic abuse in order to save time. The MPs’ inquiry into the use of what is called “out-of-court disposals” shows that the different way police forces use them has created a postcode lottery with nearly 50% of offences dealt with by cautions, warnings and fines in London compared with 28% in West Yorkshire. Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said: “The inappropriate use of out-of-court disposals to deal with serious offences is unacceptable. It is alarming that they are not being used in the correct way in up to 30% of cases. This has damaged public confidence in the police’s ability to tackle low-level offending.” Vaz said forces had been allowed to interpret guidance on out-of-court disposals in their own way, resulting in huge variations across the UK in the way crimes are dealt with: “It cannot be right that while an offence committed in Cumbria would go to court, in Gloucestershire it may be dealt with by a caution.” The MPs say that a new system of out-of-court disposals was needed to provide a clear, escalatory process to give the police the opportunity to start from a clean slate and allow them to tackle low-level offending appropriately. Their report says that scrutiny panels should be set up in all police force areas so that decisions on when to use cautions, warnings and fixed penalty fines are appropriate and consistent across the country. “We cannot allow the misuse of out-of-court disposals in serious cases to continue. The public deserve to feel reassured that their local police forces are not tackling serious crimes with a slap on the wrist,” said Vaz. The Magistrates Association told the MPs that 20%-30% of cautions, warnings and fixed penalties notices were being used inappropriately for repeat offenders or in more serious cases. But the police defended their use, saying that only 0.2% of robberies and fewer than 2% of sexual offences were dealt with in this way. They cited one example of a caution used for a sexual offence in a case in which a 16-year-old boy who was in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, was reported to the police, but the girl nor her parents was willing to support a prosecution to court. Reforms to the use of cautions has already seen the number of cases dealt with by out-of-court disposals fall from 660,965 in 2008 to 318,500 in the 12 months to March 2014. The MPs said further reforms to the use of simple cautions would go some way to restoring public confidence. View the full article
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