The UK imprisons too many people

I don't know if this is considered a 'Dead Horse' issue or not but here goes:

Today's Sunday Times has the story of Annelise Sanderson, 18, who in December died after hanging herself in a cell in a women's prison (HMP Styal) in Manchester.

Her crime was apparently an 'alcohol-fuelled' theft of a pair of trainers.
What risk to society was she that she should be given any custodial sentence rather than being required to carry out some constructive way of paying for her 'crime'.

Why isn't there more public outcry about low (or zero) risk 'criminals' being locked up?

Incarceration rates vary hugely around the world with England and Wales being about mid-way at around 140/100,000.
Russia and Turkey are much higher at around 350 (Statista.com) and the US is off the Richter scale.
But Scandinavia and some countries like Iceland manage much lower rates.

I guess it's because spending more 'tax dollars' on offender rehabilitation doesn't win many votes and being 'tough on crime' does.

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Comments

  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    The public like it when people who have committed crimes are incarcerated, so why would there be outcry about it? Most of the UK public will just tut about young people being out of control and then go back to their Daily Heil.
  • MarsupialMarsupial Shipmate
    A year in jail seems truly over the top for a shoplifting but it seems like there was a lot of other stuff going on as well when she was sentenced back in June 2020:

    https://www.wigantoday.net/news/crime/teen-girl-who-assaulted-four-wigan-people-including-three-999-staff-jailed-year-2898978

    A shoplifting and assaults on four people committed the day after she had just been sentenced to a community sentence for other violent offences. Not that jail is a good option, but there may come a time when the system runs out of good options.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    The public are massively sentimental about abused children - and then on the strike of midnight when they turn 18 they no longer give a shit about the causes of their current behaviour, or investing in the kind of resources that would address it.
  • Merry VoleMerry Vole Shipmate
    @Marsupial , I admit I hadn't fully researched the story of Annelise Sanderson, so thanks for that.
  • Merry VoleMerry Vole Shipmate
    The public are massively sentimental about abused children - and then on the strike of midnight when they turn 18 they no longer give a shit about the causes of their current behaviour, or investing in the kind of resources that would address it.

    This.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited July 25
    Thanks @Marsupial. What is one to do eh? I had to get a friend out of jail whose only crime for many a year was stealing a packet of sausages. I do not understand banging up anyone for non-violent crime. And even then.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    It is disgraceful that so many people are locked up with mental health issues which are never treated, and rehabilitation is always underfunded. The so-called community sentences have a bad name and are thought of as an easy option, again because they are underfunded and often poorly run.

    Prisons are necessary for keeping the public safe from harm, that is all they are good for.
  • Raptor Eye wrote: »
    It is disgraceful that so many people are locked up with mental health issues which are never treated, and rehabilitation is always underfunded. The so-called community sentences have a bad name and are thought of as an easy option, again because they are underfunded and often poorly run.

    Prisons are necessary for keeping the public safe from harm, that is all they are good for.

    They're not very good at that, either. If you consider that almost every person in prison is going to be released at some point, then the 'keeping the public safe' is at best, a temporary feature.

    Any sentence, custodial or otherwise, should major on addressing the reasons for the offending behaviour, in order to make it less likely that it's repeated.
  • SpikeSpike Admin Emeritus
    She was already on a suspended sentence. In other words, on her last chance with a stark and plain warning that if she offended again during the period she would definitely be banged up. She reoffended, so what other option was there?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Spike wrote: »
    She was already on a suspended sentence. In other words, on her last chance with a stark and plain warning that if she offended again during the period she would definitely be banged up. She reoffended, so what other option was there?

    Yeaaaah. That's the choice isn't it? Turn or burn.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Marsupial wrote: »
    A year in jail seems truly over the top for a shoplifting but it seems like there was a lot of other stuff going on as well when she was sentenced back in June 2020:

    https://www.wigantoday.net/news/crime/teen-girl-who-assaulted-four-wigan-people-including-three-999-staff-jailed-year-2898978

    A shoplifting and assaults on four people committed the day after she had just been sentenced to a community sentence for other violent offences. Not that jail is a good option, but there may come a time when the system runs out of good options.

    People only get sent to jail for minor offences as a last resort.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    edited July 25
    Telford wrote: »
    Marsupial wrote: »
    A year in jail seems truly over the top for a shoplifting but it seems like there was a lot of other stuff going on as well when she was sentenced back in June 2020:

    https://www.wigantoday.net/news/crime/teen-girl-who-assaulted-four-wigan-people-including-three-999-staff-jailed-year-2898978

    A shoplifting and assaults on four people committed the day after she had just been sentenced to a community sentence for other violent offences. Not that jail is a good option, but there may come a time when the system runs out of good options.

    People only get sent to jail for minor offences as a last resort.

    Presumably where the last resort includes cases where the state is feeling particularly vicious, or the person concerned has no legal representation.

    e.g https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/aug/17/england-riots-harsh-sentences-justified

    "Such as Ursula Nevin, a mother of two who was asleep when the Manchester riots were raging, but who was sent down for six months because she accepted a pair of looted shorts from a friend. Or Nicholas Robinson, who will pay with six months in prison rather than £3.50 for a case of water he took from a smashed-up Lidl in Brixton. Or Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan who got four years each for using Facebook to incite a riot that never took place. All are in their early 20s, none have previous convictions.
  • Telford wrote: »
    Marsupial wrote: »
    A year in jail seems truly over the top for a shoplifting but it seems like there was a lot of other stuff going on as well when she was sentenced back in June 2020:

    https://www.wigantoday.net/news/crime/teen-girl-who-assaulted-four-wigan-people-including-three-999-staff-jailed-year-2898978

    A shoplifting and assaults on four people committed the day after she had just been sentenced to a community sentence for other violent offences. Not that jail is a good option, but there may come a time when the system runs out of good options.

    People only get sent to jail for minor offences as a last resort.

    <citation needed>
  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    Prisons are just another ring in the beer and circuses used to keep the moronorati Daily Heil readers happy. The pretence of justice is wearing thin.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    Spike wrote: »
    She was already on a suspended sentence. In other words, on her last chance with a stark and plain warning that if she offended again during the period she would definitely be banged up. She reoffended, so what other option was there?

    Well, given she seems to have been an alcoholic - placing her into a specialist rehab bed instead of giving a suspended community sentence in the first place might have been a better bet. But such beds are extremely hard to get because drug and alcohol services are woefully underfunded.
  • SpikeSpike Admin Emeritus

    Well, given she seems to have been an alcoholic - placing her into a specialist rehab bed instead of giving a suspended community sentence in the first place might have been a better bet. But such beds are extremely hard to get because drug and alcohol services are woefully underfunded.

    How do you know that hadn’t already been tried? The fact that she even had a suspended sentence suggests that there had been a number of previous offences before that.

    I know a few magistrates and was considering doing it myself so have done a fair bit of research on this. Prison sentences in a magistrates court for a first offence are pretty much unheard of. In most cases JPs will ask for a probation report before sentencing and very often a medical report or a report from social services as well.

    The decision to impose a custodial sentence is never taken lightly and only after every other option has been exhausted
  • Spike wrote: »
    The decision to impose a custodial sentence is never taken lightly and only after every other option has been exhausted

    I am law-adjacent and this simply isn't true. There are tariffs set by primary legislation for most offences, and @chrisstiles has already provided actual examples of minor first-time offences being punished with prison.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Spike wrote: »

    Well, given she seems to have been an alcoholic - placing her into a specialist rehab bed instead of giving a suspended community sentence in the first place might have been a better bet. But such beds are extremely hard to get because drug and alcohol services are woefully underfunded.

    How do you know that hadn’t already been tried? The fact that she even had a suspended sentence suggests that there had been a number of previous offences before that.

    I know a few magistrates and was considering doing it myself so have done a fair bit of research on this. Prison sentences in a magistrates court for a first offence are pretty much unheard of. In most cases JPs will ask for a probation report before sentencing and very often a medical report or a report from social services as well.

    The decision to impose a custodial sentence is never taken lightly and only after every other option has been exhausted

    I agree with you even if some can find isolated incidents.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    The UK imprisons too many people? Compared to whom? The US? 'nough said.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    Spike wrote: »

    Well, given she seems to have been an alcoholic - placing her into a specialist rehab bed instead of giving a suspended community sentence in the first place might have been a better bet. But such beds are extremely hard to get because drug and alcohol services are woefully underfunded.

    How do you know that hadn’t already been tried? The fact that she even had a suspended sentence suggests that there had been a number of previous offences before that.

    I know a few magistrates and was considering doing it myself so have done a fair bit of research on this. Prison sentences in a magistrates court for a first offence are pretty much unheard of. In most cases JPs will ask for a probation report before sentencing and very often a medical report or a report from social services as well.

    The decision to impose a custodial sentence is never taken lightly and only after every other option has been exhausted

    I took criminology as half of a dual honours degree, on the basis of having read academic research on the subject and having observed local magistrates courts - I’d say you are being somewhat optimistic.

    More recently, I have seen a magistrate bail a person accused of making a bomb and assaulting his neighbour to the house of a friend with children. (Thereby triggering an immediate child protection process.). Because they hadn’t bothered to check that it was safe address for him to stay, and also set a reporting requirement for him to attend police station that was shut at the time he was legally required to be there.

    They discharge vulnerable adults from the court to return home without telling their carers, professional or family. This in the case of people exhibiting highly risky self harm behaviours and they apparently think it’s fine to expect them to make their way home independently on the train, when they are in receipt of a social care package providing 24/7 staffing.

    The process of getting pre or post sentence reports is chaotic. I have an occasion discovered the court is expecting a report from me that day, that neither they nor any one else had ever contacted me to request I provide.

    I could go on.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited July 26
    We're a century or ten away from the post scarcity economics needed to help people who cannot be helped. I've given up trying. The cost is in the order of £100,000 per client year. Easily. That won't be in anyone's manifesto for a while. Not while education, adult social care etc, etc are even more massively underfunded. All the criticism of the system as if 'Something must be done!' in helpless privilege is utterly futile. In the meantime what is the body of Christ doing about it?
  • wabalewabale Shipmate
    From Martin Gilbert's one-volumed biography of Winston Churchill: 'Throughout his period as Home Secretary, Churchill took up cases where he felt the sentence had been too severe. After a visit to Pentonville prison, he used his powers as Home Secretary to recommend the King to commute the prison sentences on seven young offenders. Conservative MPs, led by Lord Winerton, attacked his action in the Commons. "I must confess," he [Churchill] replied, "I was very glad of the opportunity of recommending the use of the prerogative in these cases, because I wanted to draw the attention of the country, by means of cases perfectly legitimate in themselves, to the evil by which 7,000 lads of the poorer classes are sent to gaol every year for offences for which, if the noble Lord had committed them at College, he would not have been subjected to the slightest degree of inconvenience."

    Churchill was also concerned at that time (1906) that Trade Unions were being unfairly treated by the judges: " ... a very large number of our population have been led to the opinion that they are, unconsciously no doubt, biased." [The Opposition benches responded in general outrage.]
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    In the meantime what is the body of Christ doing about it?
    Various projects supported or run by churches or individual Christians:
    Homeless shelters and support for those at the bottom of the social pile
    Support for drug and alcohol rehabilitation (many churches are venues for NA and AA groups)
    Debt advice and supporting financial budgeting.
    Prison chaplaincy
    Campaigning on prison reform and wider social justice issues
    ....

  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    edited July 26
    Martin54 wrote: »
    We're a century or ten away from the post scarcity economics needed to help people who cannot be helped. I've given up trying. The cost is in the order of £100,000 per client year.

    The cost of keeping someone in prison isn't insignificant either.
  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    What a shame you’ve run out of colonies
  • There are still a few small islands in the middle of the Atlantic which don't have large populations. But, the Home Office seems to be reserving those for imprisoning asylum seekers.
  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    Sounds like Our Bastards: Indian Ocean( Xmas Island) here.

    Has St Helen had any prisoners since Napoleon I?
  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    Helena that is
  • Fawkes CatFawkes Cat Shipmate
    wabale wrote: »
    From Martin Gilbert's one-volumed biography of Winston Churchill: 'Throughout his period as Home Secretary, Churchill took up cases where he felt the sentence had been too severe. After a visit to Pentonville prison, he used his powers as Home Secretary to recommend the King to commute the prison sentences on seven young offenders. Conservative MPs, led by Lord Winerton, attacked his action in the Commons."

    Just to clarify, at the time Churchill was Home Secretary in a Liberal government - so the attacks from the Conservatives were from the opposition.
  • A couple of years ago I attended an interesting talk by a deputy prison governor, who strongly agreed that custodial sentences were over-used and believed the Scandinavian model to be far superior; but pointed out that for it to work, the general public had to buy into it and accept that offenders would be part of their communities.

    There were several other eye-opening points in the talk, including:

    * Of all categories of prisoner, paedophiles are the least problematic, tending to be much less violent than other prisoners and the least likely to use drugs. This is true to such an extent that governors actively try to have as high a proportion as possible.

    * Women's prisons are a completely different environment and it is much more possible for prison officers to have a positive relationship with the inmates. Example given - a hairdressing salon in which female officers and inmates would do each other's hair. Whereas in a men's prison it is common enough for excrement to be flung at warders.

    * One of the most dangerous times for prisoners is immediately after release. One reason for this is that because the prison has to return any mail and property that has been retained under suspicion that it may contain drugs, but cannot be opened to check for this since it is private. Often it does, resulting in massive overdoses. (I may have misremembered the details of this - it seems bizarre if true).
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    In the meantime what is the body of Christ doing about it?
    Various projects supported or run by churches or individual Christians:
    Homeless shelters and support for those at the bottom of the social pile
    Support for drug and alcohol rehabilitation (many churches are venues for NA and AA groups)
    Debt advice and supporting financial budgeting.
    Prison chaplaincy
    Campaigning on prison reform and wider social justice issues
    ....

    Aye, I can tick three of those boxes. It's a twitch of a little finger.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited July 26
    Martin54 wrote: »
    We're a century or ten away from the post scarcity economics needed to help people who cannot be helped. I've given up trying. The cost is in the order of £100,000 per client year.

    The cost of keeping someone in prison isn't insignificant either.

    Aye, it gets up to that level. Reasonable hotel costs. To really help unhelpable people without arresting and/or sectioning them for currently unarrestable/unsectionable behaviour is more like a million a year.
  • I think this report would be useful at this juncture:

    https://civitas.org.uk/content/files/whogoestoprison.pdf

    As they put it:
    A criminal justice system which passes more than 1.2 million sentences a year lends itself
    well to many striking individual anecdotes which can be used to imply that sentencing is too soft, too harsh, or just right. But any anecdote can be a misleading, exceptional case.

    This briefing therefore avoids the anecdotal and explores the broad picture of those who
    are incarcerated. It takes a full year of sentencing data – 2016, in which 98,527 custodial
    sentences were imposed on 89,812 individuals in England and Wales – and investigates
    those individuals’ criminal history and the crimes for which they were incarcerated.

    Now, I do believe we imprison too many people in the UK, but I was surprised by some of the data there.

    On Page 5-6 is a table of the % of first-time offenders receiving a custodial sentence by offence category. I think it very illuminating.

    AFZ
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    edited July 26
    A couple of years ago I attended an interesting talk by a deputy prison governor, who strongly agreed that custodial sentences were over-used and believed the Scandinavian model to be far superior; but pointed out that for it to work, the general public had to buy into it and accept that offenders would be part of their communities.

    A prison governer will always say that there are too many people in their prison. They never get to see the many thousands who receive a non custodial sentence or those who get let off with a caution
  • In what sense is a caution being "let off"? It requires an admission of guilt (if you're not guilty then don't accept the caution and let the authorities prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law) and is recorded on criminal records - thus would be taken into account in sentencing for future offences and may impact employment. It's only applied for minor offences where a custodial sentence wouldn't be appropriate (if a conviction would lead to a community service order a caution is unlikely to be used).

    A prison governor is in the perfect position to know whether people sent to his prison would have been more appropriately given a non-custodial sentence with appropriate treatment (eg for addiction), and they're also probably well aware of people who go through prison moving from angry and desperate to professional criminal as they get to know other prisoners and are hardened by the experience.
  • I think in general, when people think about prisons, and locking up criminals, they think about criminals that might be a danger to them. So people, in general, tend to want muggers and burglars locked up, because they might attack people like them. Whereas a couple of thuggish lads that had a consensual fistfight outside a pub might be less of a threat.

    Which makes this:
    for it to work, the general public had to buy into it and accept that offenders would be part of their communities.

    a challenge. The general public doesn't want criminals that pose a threat to them to be part of their communities. They want them to go somewhere else.

    (This is also why middle-class communities are comparatively untroubled, except for a bit of frowning and tut-tutting, by crime that confines itself to poor areas. As long as the crime stays over there, it doesn't really exist in practice.)
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited July 26
    You also have to counter the language; anyone who doesn't get a custodial sentence is described as "walking free from court". There's a very strong sense that any non-custodial sentence is "getting away with it".
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited July 26
    I think this report would be useful at this juncture:

    https://civitas.org.uk/content/files/whogoestoprison.pdf

    As they put it:
    A criminal justice system which passes more than 1.2 million sentences a year lends itself
    well to many striking individual anecdotes which can be used to imply that sentencing is too soft, too harsh, or just right. But any anecdote can be a misleading, exceptional case.

    This briefing therefore avoids the anecdotal and explores the broad picture of those who
    are incarcerated. It takes a full year of sentencing data – 2016, in which 98,527 custodial
    sentences were imposed on 89,812 individuals in England and Wales – and investigates
    those individuals’ criminal history and the crimes for which they were incarcerated.

    Now, I do believe we imprison too many people in the UK, but I was surprised by some of the data there.

    On Page 5-6 is a table of the % of first-time offenders receiving a custodial sentence by offence category. I think it very illuminating.

    AFZ

    It is an interesting paper - but it is missing some crucial information. If, for example, you drive without an MOT - for how many offenses will you be convicted ? If you get pissed in pub, get into a fight outside that pub, through a beer bottle through a window and then spit in the face of the police officer who arrests you - for how many offenses will you be convicted ?

    In other words - one episode of criminality does not necessarily equate to one conviction. It also provides quite convincing evidence that prison is not very effective - but I think we knew that.

    Also, one should always consider the source - this is a guy with a definite agenda: https://www.conservativehome.com/author/peter-cuthbertson
  • Leorning CnihtLeorning Cniht Shipmate
    edited July 26
    In other words - one episode of criminality does not necessarily equate to one conviction. It also provides quite convincing evidence that prison is not very effective - but I think we knew that.

    But I think you'd agree that getting pissed, getting into a fight, breaking a window, and assaulting a police officer was worse than getting pissed, then going home quietly, or getting pissed, getting into a fight, and then leaving, wouldn't you? It's not obvious to me that counting the former as more offences is giving the wrong impression.

    It also doesn't say, I think, how many of those "first time offenders" asked for another 300 offences to be taken in to account.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    I would agree with that, but I don't think the way he is using the data is as informative as he thinks it is.

    If we try to understand what happens with prolific offenders for example, it would be helpful to know what proportion of them have stable housing, addiction issues, mental health issues etc. And what proportion were offered or received treatment.

    If you dump a 20 year old alcoholic on the street with no housing, no job and no support of any kind - I imagine the chances of them reoffending are very high. The more convictions the more impossible to get housing or paid employment, for example. His solution seems to to only envisage whether people go in or come out the prison gates not what interventions of any kind you put in place.

    The fact that someone commits a lot of offences in a short time may mean that they are the embodiment of satan, but it is more likely to reflect some ongoing circumstance that remains unaddressed after the caution, suspended sentence or whatever community sentence they've now run out of rope with when appearing at court again. Relatively few people are psychopaths or involved in organised crime.
  • The fact that someone commits a lot of offences in a short time may mean that they are the embodiment of satan, but it is more likely to reflect some ongoing circumstance that remains unaddressed after the caution, suspended sentence or whatever community sentence they've now run out of rope with when appearing at court again.

    Fair point.

    Our church supports an organization that works with recently released prisoners - providing them temporary housing, helping them find work, adjust to life, and that sort of thing. Which is great, and worthwhile, and the organization boasts that their clients have a re-offending rate that is very much lower than typical, so they "work".

    And every time I see that statistic, I ask how much of it is the genuine effect of the organization, and how much is a selection bias caused by only people who want to turn their lives around engage with the organization in the first place.

    And I don't have a good way of answering that question.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    It is probably both to a certain extent but the extent to which abuse, poverty, addiction and deprivation drive criminality is huge.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    edited July 26
    I think this report would be useful at this juncture:

    https://civitas.org.uk/content/files/whogoestoprison.pdf
    According to their wikipedia page the thinktank behind that is a right-wing libertarian thinktank with some history of controversy for taking liberties with their use of data. So in the light of Doublethink's criticisms of the report I'd take the report with a pinch of salt.

  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    In what sense is a caution being "let off"? It requires an admission of guilt (if you're not guilty then don't accept the caution and let the authorities prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law) and is recorded on criminal records - thus would be taken into account in sentencing for future offences and may impact employment. It's only applied for minor offences where a custodial sentence wouldn't be appropriate (if a conviction would lead to a community service order a caution is unlikely to be used).
    The Police will more often than not caution someone who accepts the caution. Not every innocent suspect wants to risk a not guilty plea trial.

    People don't realise that a patrolling policeman has more power than a custody officer or the CPS. The officer can make a decision to just let an offender off just because they have been very friendly.
    A prison governor is in the perfect position to know whether people sent to his prison would have been more appropriately given a non-custodial sentence with appropriate treatment (eg for addiction), and they're also probably well aware of people who go through prison moving from angry and desperate to professional criminal as they get to know other prisoners and are hardened by the experience.

    The prison governer sees criminals who are sent there are a last resort. It is often because they haved refused to co-operate with a non custodial sentence and that includes a refusal to pay fines

  • Telford wrote: »
    In what sense is a caution being "let off"? It requires an admission of guilt (if you're not guilty then don't accept the caution and let the authorities prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law) and is recorded on criminal records - thus would be taken into account in sentencing for future offences and may impact employment. It's only applied for minor offences where a custodial sentence wouldn't be appropriate (if a conviction would lead to a community service order a caution is unlikely to be used).
    The Police will more often than not caution someone who accepts the caution. Not every innocent suspect wants to risk a not guilty plea trial.
    The police will decide to caution someone. By definition cautions will be issued to those who accept them (and, are able to accept them), if someone refuses to or is unable to accept a caution then a caution will not be issued and the offense will be passed to the court system for trial. I'd have thought that most people who know themselves to be innocent would prefer the chance to prove their innocence rather than admit to something they haven't done and get a criminal record. If people feel that the system is so stacked against them that they'll not get a fair trial then there are far bigger problems than whether a caution is an appropriate measure for minor offenses or whether all offenses should go to trial.
    People don't realise that a patrolling policeman has more power than a custody officer or the CPS. The officer can make a decision to just let an offender off just because they have been very friendly.
    Yes, I guess the decision whether to arrest someone lies with the officers on the scene. But, that's a different issue than whether they arrest someone and proceed to trial or arrest someone and the officers in consultation with superiors and the CPS issue a caution.

  • Dafyd wrote: »
    I think this report would be useful at this juncture:

    https://civitas.org.uk/content/files/whogoestoprison.pdf
    According to their wikipedia page the thinktank behind that is a right-wing libertarian thinktank with some history of controversy for taking liberties with their use of data. So in the light of Doublethink's criticisms of the report I'd take the report with a pinch of salt.

    Indeed.

    It's the first thing I found when Googling for relevant data. Part of the reason for posting it is that it challenges what I actually think / believe...
    I'm trying to Steelman the other side...

    AFZ
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    edited July 26
    The police will decide to caution someone. By definition cautions will be issued to those who accept them (and, are able to accept them), if someone refuses to or is unable to accept a caution then a caution will not be issued and the offense will be passed to the court system for trial. I'd have thought that most people who know themselves to be innocent would prefer the chance to prove their innocence rather than admit to something they haven't done and get a criminal record. If people feel that the system is so stacked against them that they'll not get a fair trial then there are far bigger problems than whether a caution is an appropriate measure for minor offenses or whether all offenses should go to trial.
    It goes something like this, " Custody officer, " If you admit the offence I can issue you with a caution. If you don't admit the offence, a file will sent sent to the CPS and you may be prosecuted". Prisoner, "OK I admit the offence "


  • Why would anyone in their right mind admit to an offense they're innocent of? Are you implying that people are being routinely cautioned because they're incapable of making an informed decision (in which case, a caution shouldn't be issued and the police are breaking the law by cautioning someone they shouldn't)? Or, maybe you're implying the police are forcing a confession from an innocent person (also breaking the law)? And, there was I thinking you were in "the police can do no wrong" camp.
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