If you have ever been arrested or questioned by the police, you may have received a police caution. A police caution is a formal warning that can be given by the police to anyone who has admitted that they are guilty of a crime.
Anyone under 18 will be issued a youth caution, rather than an adult caution. A youth caution carries different implications than an adult caution. The police can issue either a youth or adult simple or conditional caution.
For a conditional caution, the police can impose requirements on an arrestee, such as writing a letter of apology or paying a fine. A police caution is not a criminal conviction, but it can have serious consequences for your future. For example, a police caution can:
- Show up on your criminal record and affect your employment, education, and travel opportunities.
- Be retained on the Police National Computer (PNC) until you reach 100 years of age (unless you get it deleted).
- Be used as evidence of bad character if you are prosecuted for another crime in the future.
- Prevent you from working with children or vulnerable adults, as it will be disclosed on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Different rules apply depending on the level of the certificate, and whether it is a youth or adult caution. For the details rule please see our police caution calculator.
- Cause some countries to deny you entry or residency, such as the United States, Canada, Spain Singapore, China, Australia, and New Zealand.
Police Caution Reforms – Community Cautions
The government are in the process (as of August 2023) of reforming the caution and out of court disposal procedure so that in the future the police will generally only issue either a “community caution” or a conditional caution”. Previously the police were able to issue a variety of out of court disposals, such as cannabis warnings, or PNDs, and there was a greater emphasis on issuing community resolutions, which are not recorded on the PNC. The proposed shift in approach may mean that more people will end up with a record on the PNC.
How to Get a Police Caution Removed?
If you have received a police caution, you may want to know how to remove it from the Police National Computer (PNC), which is the database that stores all criminal records in the UK. In this article, we will explain the process of removing a police caution from the PNC, the criteria for eligibility, and the potential costs involved.
What is the Process to Remove a Police Caution from the PNC?
The process of removing a police caution from the PNC is also known as applying for expungement or deletion. This means that your caution will be erased from the PNC, and you will no longer have to disclose it on job or immigration applications. However, not every caution will be eligible for deletion. You need to meet certain criteria and provide evidence that your caution was given unlawfully or unfairly.
The criteria for expungement are, broadly speaking, based on the Ministry of Justice guidance on police cautions. Before either a simple or conditional caution can be issued the police must ensure that:
- There is sufficient evidence to prosecute the arrestee for the offence.
- The arrestee admits that they are guilty of the offence.
- The arrestee understands the significance of a caution and gives informed consent to being cautioned.
If any of these conditions were not met when you received your caution, you may have grounds for expungement. Common examples where a caution might be eligible for deletion are listed below. The list is not comprehensive, and your caution may still be eligible for deletion even if your case does not fit into the listed scenarios. For a comprehensive advice on the particular facts of your case, please contact us to arrange a consultation.
Scenarios where a caution may be eligible to be deleted:
- You were under 18 years old when you received your caution and you did not have an appropriate adult present.
- You were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you received your caution and you did not understand what you were agreeing to.
- You were coerced or pressured into accepting your caution by the police or someone else.
- You were seriously mentally unwell at the time of the incident, or when the caution was issued.
- You were not given adequate legal advice before accepting your caution.
- You were not informed of the consequences of accepting your caution, such as how it would affect your future prospects.
- You were wrongly accused of the offence or there was insufficient evidence against you.
- You received your caution for an offence that is no longer considered a crime.
Was it in the Public Interest to issue you a Police Caution?
The police also need to prove that your caution was in the public interest. The public interest test is fairly vague, but there are guidelines and previous court judgments that help the police and CPS determine the public interest. We will be able to guide you through the public interest test, to help you understand whether or not the public interest threshold was passed in your case.
Expert Advice on how to get a Police Caution Removed
If you think you meet any of these criteria detailed above, you can apply for expungement. If you are unsure if any of the elements apply to your case, and if you would like an expert and experienced lawyer to represent you, then please get in touch.
When you apply for deletion of your police caution some of the things that you should make sure to include in your deletion application are:
- Your full name, date of birth, and address.
- The date and location of your caution and the offence for which it was given.
- The reasons why you believe your caution was unlawful or unfair, with supporting evidence such as witness statements, exhibits, medical records and expert experience if appropriate, relevant previous legal judgments, statutory law, and regulations etc.
- The impact that your caution has had on your life, such as how it has affected your career, education, travel, or personal relationships.
Consultation with an expert Solicitor on how to get a Police Caution Removed
If you are unsure what to include in your police caution deletion application, then please get in touch to arrange a consultation, and we will be happy to assist you. We know that often when people have been issued with a caution, it can be a very traumatic and emotional experience; reliving the event can be difficult, and it may be hard for you to gain a genuine perspective on what happened. We will help you take the stress out of the process, and give you a fair and well informed advice on what you can do in your case, and whether your caution is likely to be deleted.
Once you apply for deletion, the police will review your case and decide whether to grant or deny your request. This can occasionally take a few weeks, but it often takes much longer, frequently taking over 6 months.
Appeal a Refusal to Remove a Police Caution
If your request is granted, your caution will be deleted from the PNC. If your request is denied, you will receive a letter from the police explaining why they have rejected your application; you can appeal this decision with the police. If the appeal fails, you have the option of taking your case to Judicial review before the Administrative Court.
We have successfully had 100s of cautions removed over the years, and we believe we are the leading legal practice in this field. Most often we are able to persuade the police to remove a caution, but if this is not possible, we have the experience to take your case to court. We would only ever advise a client to take a case to court if there are very strong grounds to do so.
How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Police Caution from the PNC?
There is no official fee for applying for expungement of a police caution; please see here for our detailed article on the costs involved in deleting a police caution.
You may be eligible for legal aid if you cannot afford to pay for legal advice or representation. Legal aid is a government-funded scheme that helps people who have a low income, or who are on benefits, to access legal services. You can find out if you qualify for legal aid here.
Unfortunately, we do not offer legal aid.
What Are the Benefits of Removing a Police Caution from the PNC?
If your police caution is successfully removed from the PNC you will have the many benefits of having a clean criminal record. For example having a clean record can:
- Restore your reputation and confidence, as you will no longer have to worry about being judged or discriminated against because of your past mistake.
- Improve your employment prospects, as you will no longer have to disclose your caution to potential employers or face rejection because of it. You will be able to apply for jobs that require a clean criminal record, such as working with children or vulnerable adults, becoming a health care worker, emergency worker, lawyer or a teacher.
- Enhance your educational opportunities, as you will no longer have to disclose your caution to universities or colleges or face rejection because of it. You will be able to apply for courses that require a clean criminal record, such as medicine, nursing, or social work.
- Expand your travel options, as you will no longer have to disclose your caution to immigration authorities or face refusal because of it. You will be able to work and live in countries that have strict visa requirements or criminal record checks, such as the United States, Saudia Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, China, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
- Protect your privacy and security, as you will no longer have to worry about your caution being accessed or leaked by unauthorised parties, such as hackers or identity thieves.
How to Remove a Police Caution | Expert Lawyers
A police caution is not a criminal conviction, but it can have serious consequences for your future. If you have received a police caution, you may want to know how to remove it from the PNC, which is the database that stores all criminal records in the UK.
To do so, you need to apply for expungement to the police force that issued your caution. You need to provide evidence that your caution was given unlawfully or unfairly and/or was not in the public interest, and explain how it has affected your life. The process can take months and there is no guarantee that your request will be granted.
We believe that given our extensive experience and knowledge in this field, acquired over many years, we can give our clients the edge in their deletion application. We have had hundreds of police cautions removed over the years; please see here to read our many positive reviews.
If you would like to arrange a consultation, then please contact us. We know that discussing a police caution can be stressful; you will find all of us at Legisia are friendly and approachable, and we will provide you with a sympathetic, confidential, and understanding ear.