What is a Conditional Caution?

Written 20th October 2021 by Helen Buxton

Once a person is interviewed at the police station there are a number of possible outcomes including a decision to charge, a decision to take no further action and a decision to offer a conditional caution. A conditional caution avoids the need for a court hearing and is a disposal at the police station stage.


1. The person must be over 18 years of age.
2. There must be sufficient evidence to charge.

It can be offered for more than one offence if all are related.

In determining whether a Conditional Caution is appropriate to the circumstances of an offence the seriousness of the offence must be assessed to ensure that this out of court disposal provides an appropriate and proportionate response to the offending behaviour and meets the justice of the case.

It requires the person to comply with conditions as an alternative to prosecution.

It is possible for a person to receive a conditional caution even if they do have criminal convictions if enough time has lapsed and the offences are dissimilar.

Authorised Person

An authorised person for the purpose of administering a Conditional Caution is a police officer not below the rank of sergeant or any person specifically authorised to do so by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

An authorised person can offer a Conditional Condition for any summary only offence and any either way offence.

An indictable only case deemed by the police to be suitable for a Conditional Caution must be referred to a Crown Prosecutor for a final decision.

Generally offences involving domestic abuse or hate crime will not be suitable for a Conditional Caution.


Once the evidential test is met , the decision maker must then be satisfied that the public interest can best be served by the person complying with suitable conditions, taking into account the interests of the victim, the community and/or needs of the person to be cautioned.

The conditions must be rehabilitative, reparative and /or in the form of a financial penalty.

Guilt must be admitted and agreement to the conditional caution must be confirmed.

Once given, criminal proceedings are put on hold whilst an opportunity is given for compliance.

If the conditions within the caution are not adhered to the matter can be brought back to the police station for charge, a court appearance, and subsequently a criminal conviction if admitted/found guilty.

There are clearly advantages to accepting a conditional caution if guilt has been admitted. Resolution without the requirement for a court appearance.

A conditional caution is not a criminal conviction but it does form part of a criminal record and there would be a requirement to disclose this when applying for certain types of employment.

Helen Buxton

Helen Buxton



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