A caution with consequences?

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2014 National LGBT Conference
28 July 2014

Conference notes that when someone commits a minor crime, the police or Crown Prosecution Service can decide to give them an out-of-court disposal instead of taking the case to court. The disposal is often called a ‘caution’. Cautions are meant to be used for less serious crimes, for example low level criminal damage.

Cautions are official warnings. On accepting a caution you will be asked to sign a form that explains what a caution means and you will be given a copy of that form.

A caution is not a criminal conviction, but it does go on your criminal record.

The police will record the details of the caution on their databases. This means that your caution may, in some circumstances, be revealed to an employer or used in future court proceedings as evidence of your ‘bad character’.

Conference is concerned that in a number of instances, an acceptance of a caution has adversely affected a member’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, and the member has lost their job as a consequence. This can be seen most clearly for members who require an enhanced DBS check (such as those who work in Adult care or children’s services)

Conference is concerned about a small number of instances where lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) members, without any representation or legal advice, have accepted a police caution in order to avoid court proceedings or have cautions on their records due to incidents as minors.

Once a police caution is accepted it can only be removed via the internal police “exceptional case procedure,” or overturned by taking the case to the High Court for a judicial review.

Conference is committed to ensuring that our LGBT members are well aware of their legal entitlements and know how to access legal advice. Conference is committed to raising levels of awareness about the adverse consequences of accepting a caution.

Conference instructs the national LGBT committee to:

1. Work with the UNISON legal department to develop clear guidance for our members about the consequences of a caution;

2. Seek the support of UNISON solicitors to promote this advice on their website;

3. Ensure an article is placed in UNISON focus and/or Out In UNISON to raise awareness of this issue.