Police Record Cautions

Police cautions remain on file indefinitely but are considered ‘spent’ after a period of time which varies depending on the type of offence, (Please see spent convictions). Cautions form part of a person’s criminal record and even when considered spent the police are required to inform the court through the prosecutor of their existence. It is for this reason that when persons are brought before a court they are provided with the same information that the court is provided with, including details of cautions and spent convictions/cautions.


A caution is an acceptance of guilt by a person which is (in criminal matters) signed by the individual concerned. Should the caution offered not be accepted then the offence would proceed to court to be heard. Traffic cautions are not signed as accepted by the person concerned but are sent through the post and a person is advised in writing that if they do not agree to accept the caution they should revert to us and the matter would then be considered for prosecution before the court in the usual manner.


Although they are ‘cautions’ they come under the heading ‘criminal offences’; Why?

Yes that is correct, the caution is an alternative means for disposal for a criminal (or traffic) offence other than prosecution.



Ensure that individuals do not suffer through lack of knowledge of their rights and responsibilities or of the services available to them or through an inability to express their needs effectively.