Proceed with caution: use of out-of-court disposals in England & Wales

Document type
Sosa, Karen
Policy Exchange
Date of publication
1 July 2012
Criminal Justice Services, Offenders
Social welfare
Material type

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Since the early 2000s, the use of out-of-court penalties as a quick means of disposing of offences has been a haphazard practice, resulting in wide variations across police forces in the frequency with which these penalties are applied. More often than not, cautions are used to deal with repeat offenders, and penalty notices are frequently unpaid and unprosecuted, rendering them meaningless. Improved guidance and accountability is needed to ensure the effective use of these disposals.

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