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Conditional caution

This is part of our information section on understanding your criminal record.

Who is it issued by and how can I contact them?

Conditional cautions can only be authorised by the CPS who then grant authority to the police to issue – contact the administering force.

Does it involve guilt?

Yes – you are asked to sign a document confirming your admission to the offence as well as details of the offence, informed consent and the conditions of the caution.

Is it recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC)?

Yes (especially if it relates to a recordable offence).

Is it classed as a conviction?


How long will it be on my record?

Information is retained on the Police National Computer even after it has become spent. In effect the conditional caution is a suspension of prosecution but if conditions are not complied with a prosecution may well go ahead. Also spent cautions can be used in future criminal proceedings as evidence of character.

When does it become spent?

Three months from the date of issue (or when it ceases to have effect, if earlier).

When do I have to declare it?

Conditional cautions now fall under the protection of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act so you don’t have to disclose unless it is for an occupation which is an exception to the Act, like working with children.

Is it disclosed on DBS checks?

Yes, it is disclosed by both the standard and enhanced checks, unless it is eligible for filtering. It will not be disclosed on a basic check.

We’ve become aware of anomalies in the way the police record conditional cautions on the Police National Computer (they’re recorded as a conviction until the conditions have been satisfied). This means that conditional cautions which would be eligible for filtering still appear on standard and enhanced DBS certificates. The DBS will usually amend the certificate if you raise a query with them. Find further information here.

What guidance is there on fair process?

Do I have the right to appeal and what is the process?

By signing the document which gives your informed consent, you are accepting the caution and so there is no formal appeal route. If you wish to complain about the decision or how the case was handled you need to make a complaint to the Chief Constable or Commissioner of the administering force.

What are the implications for life in the community?

Conditions attached can be reparative, rehabilitative or (in rare cases) punitive – see CPS guidance. It is not a criminal conviction but it does form part of a criminal record so you will sometimes have to disclose when asked by employers, particularly before it is spent. It will not affect your chances of getting a mortgage. You do not need to disclose it to insurers once it’s spent.


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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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