Suspects may fight cautions

CRIME suspects have been given greater powers to mount a legal challenge to police cautions in a crucial High Court ruling announced last week.

Two judges decided that a caution could be subjected to judicial review if there had been a clear breach of Home Office guidelines.

Lord Justice Simon Brown and Mr Justice Curtis were considering the case of a 12-year-old boy arrested for theft and taken to Forest Gate police station, east London.

The caution was quashed and expunged because it was found to be in breach of the Home Office circular 'The Cautioning of Offenders'.

Lawyers for the Metropolitan Police claimed cautions should only be reviewed if there had been a “mala fide or flagrant and deliberate” breach of guidelines.

However, the judges rejected the submission, ruling that even an unintentional breach could be perfectly clear.

However, the court said that its ruling did nothing to encourage suspects to challenge their cautions. It said that only on rare occasions could a clear breach be expected to be shown.

It was also advised that when juveniles were being dealt with, the cautioning process should be tape recorded to ensure that guidelines were scrupulously adhered to.