The government of Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory, will issue new guidance on the use of police cautions as an alternative to prosecution for minor criminal allegations.

Police Caution have been in use in England and Wales for decades and are used as an out of court disposal option designed to provide quick and expedient justice and diverts minor offenders from Court and thereby saves governments funds.

The changes will permit the Director of Public Prosecutions to provide guidance to any officer ranked as inspector or higher with regards to the issuing of formal police cautions as an alternative to a formal prosecution. The Bermudan Office of the DPP believes that cautions are appropriate for first-time and low-level offenders who admit guilt when talking to police.

Michael Dunkley, the Premier of Bermuda, has said he hoped to see a reduction in “unnecessary criminalisation” as a result of an amendment to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Mr Dunlley said “Cautions have a number of intersecting goals, which make them a win-win all around.

“They allow the police to give an offender a ‘second chance’, so to speak, where circumstances warrant it.

“By avoiding going to the courts, we hope to reduce unnecessary criminalisation. No conviction will also mean no criminal record for first-time offenders. This has the added benefit of saving time and resources when it comes to dealing with offenders; police officers, prosecutors and magistrates won’t have to waste valuable time on cases which really are not appropriate for a full-scale prosecution.”

Source: The Royal Gazette, Bermuda

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