Caution Reforms – Success dependent on ‘imperative’ officer training

Officer training 'imperative' if caution reforms to succeed

Article by Helena Hickey – Police Oracle

Officer training is crucial if plans to replace police cautions with suspended prosecutions are to succeed, a Police Federation spokesman has said.

In an interview with, Paul Ford said government plans to scrap cautions mean there is going to be “a real sea change in what is expected” of officers.

“We are very concerned about police training – not just for these reforms but in general,” he said.

“Most training departments have been totally savaged by austerity, and without effective training officers have one hand tied behind their back in terms of what they can do.”

Mr Ford also cast doubt on the government’s claim that the new approach will “empower victims” by engaging them in the process.

“There is the potential that these changes could have a negative impact on the victim,” he said.

“Once a caution is given, victims can often quickly move on with their lives. With this new process, victims are being brought back into it and are having to re-live these incidents.

“What we all want is the best for victims, but there is a question mark over whether this is the way to do it.”

The plans, which are being piloted in three forces in the UK, are also aimed at “dramatically simplifying” the use of out-of-court disposals.

“I don’t think it really simplifies it to be totally honest,” said Mr Ford.

“We still have youth cautions, we still have community remedies – the whole announcement that it will “simplify” everything seems a bit of spin to me.”

Training for the three pilot programmes – taking place in Leicester, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire – was carried out by local forces, with the College of Policing pledging to update its guidance on out-of-court disposals if the scheme is successful and is rolled out nationwide.