118,000 formal cautions for violent crime offences have been issued in the last five years nationally meaning that even fewer cases are being heard in court. Read Here
Professor Morgan's report suggests that police are using cautions, penalty notices and formal warnings (cannabis seizures) more often, so that offences brought to justice (sanction detections) has increased from one million in 1999 to 1.4 million in 2007. Nearly all the increase was not through convictions but “quick justice”.
He quite correctly points out that marginal criminal activity is now being criminalised by the use of these powers. What he means is urinating in the street being treated as disorderly conduct. The issue of a Penalty Notice for disorderly conduct shows a detection and a £80 fine. Really this is drunken and disorderly behaviour and although worthy of punishment and the same fine £80 – no detection for Drunk and Disorderly.
So is it our fault for playing the game? When custody officer in the past, a low level drunk and disorderly would have been allowed to sober up and go on his/her way with a drunkenness warning. (no further action). If I deemed the behaviour too extreme they were charged to court. This ensured the apologetic idiot in the morning had a fair crack of the whip whilst the serial offenders and aggressive toe rags were dealt with. No chance nowadays always a ticket or caution for disorderly conduct to get that detection. My discretion has been removed in almost all cases except for the street drinkers brought in drunk and incapable, but then no detections at risk there either.
Personally I believe that most of us think it a waste of time sending the matter to court where the sentence imposed is no greater than a Penalty Notice for Disorder and sometimes less. The CPS will mostly withdraw not in the public interest thinking a night in the cells sufficient punishment. Do they really think we send undeserving cases to court. Compare this to driving matters where usually speeding at court is dealt with more severely than a Fixed Penalty Ticket.
Dominic Grieve the shadow home secretary thinks the public are sick and tired of the government pursuing easy targets instead of going after real criminals. Well Dominic they are not as sick and tired as the front line – We are still waiting to hear what your lot are going to do once you get in.
I am at least encouraged that people in the street are waking up to this charade