The appropriate use of cautions
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said:
“Burglary is a serious crime, and I expect the police and the criminal justice system to treat it seriously. I’m sure we all do.
“In recent days, there has been a lot of public concern about whether it is right that someone who burgles a home should be given a caution.
“Since the story about a case in Chelmsford broke, following good journalism in the Essex Chronicle, I have been discussing the general principles with Chief Constable Barker-McCardle. At each of the four public meetings I have held in the past six weeks in districts across the county, the increase in house burglaries in Essex has been raised as a concern, and rightly so. To find that a criminal has broken into your home and stolen property, some of which may have highly personal and unique qualities such as photographs of loved ones, is highly distressing.
“Whilst each case needs to be handled on its merits, and police officers should retain some discretion as to how to deal with individual cases, my belief is that a burglary committed by a stranger should normally be taken to the Crown Prosecution Service with a view to charging the suspect with burglary if the evidence is strong enough.
“The Chief Constable is conducting a review of cautions issued by Essex Police. The review will make it clear whether this case is a one-off aberration, as I hope, or whether there is a more widespread problem with how the guidelines for cautioning are being followed in our county.
“Day in, day out, Essex Police officers are out there performing to a very high professional standard and keeping us all safe. I hope this decision was an exception. If that proves not to be the case, on behalf of the people of Essex, I will be holding the Chief Constable to account.”