Just a ‘slap on the wrist’? The long term impact of cautions

Connor's story

Connor intervened when a man was verbally abusing an elderly couple outside his block of flats. Connor asked him to leave. The man began swearing and approached him aggressively. Connor pushed him back and a tussle occurred. The man eventually left, but police became involved.

CCTV footage showed Connor pushing the man, but the footage had no audio so there was no record of the other man’s threatening language. Connor received a caution for assault. He was told it would be ‘spent’ immediately and would not show up on a criminal record check. But although it wouldn’t show on a basic check, he was not informed that it would appear on an enhanced DBS check for years.

Connor had worked as an aircraft engineer for 20 years. Because this work is carried out in airports, it requires a detailed DBS check which would show his caution for assault. Other jobs in similar fields also require detailed DBS checks. Because his caution kept appearing on checks, Connor has had limited success gaining employment in the last few years.

He is currently unemployed. All because he stepped in when an elderly couple were facing abuse.

How can we change this?

Cautions are given for the lowest-level crimes, yet they can ruin people’s lives. This isn’t right. We’re campaigning for cautions not to be automatically revealed on criminal records. So that people like Connor can move on and find work. 

We’re currently engaging with all political parties in the run up to the election to advocate for reform to cautions and other unfair aspects of the criminal records disclosure system to be prioritised.

Help us achieve this goal by reaching out to your MP and asking for their support. We provide details on how to do so here.

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