Several years ago I received a caution for having sexual relations with a consenting adult in a public space.
This was my first and only encounter with the police but my caution would go on to impact my life in a myriad of ways in the years that followed. I couldn’t become the teacher that I desperately wanted to be. I struggled to move abroad because I had to pass additional checks as part of the visa process. I had to declare my caution to the authorities as part of the process to become a father (through surrogacy). I had countless embarrassing conversations with friends, family and employers along the way. I also felt shame from being labelled a criminal under the Sexual Offences Act.
During this time, I tried my best to forget or ignore the deep anxiety and stress that always hung in the background. But despite my best efforts to bury the issue, my criminal record kept cropping up, preventing me from living the life that I and my family wanted to lead.
Eventually, my partner convinced me to look into getting legal advice in the hope that I could remove the caution from my record. Working with a solicitor who specialised in this area of law, I made the case to the police that the caution was not in the ‘wider public interest’ and stressed the caution’s long-term impact on me.
I was deeply skeptical about my chances of success, and I was right to be. The police have the ultimate discretion as to whether to remove a caution; they weigh up the facts of each case and decide if a caution issued is in the public interest. Once issued, they tend to stick with their original decision.
However, last year the police wrote back to say that they had agreed to delete my caution. While no reason was given they may have accepted my argument that, according to the facts of my case, a community resolution order was the most appropriate outcome, rather than a caution.
I would not have been able to make this point and others, without the guidance of my solicitor who worked through the details of my case over several months.
Looking back now, I understand that the first and hardest step to achieving this successful outcome was me facing head on what had happened. Talking about it openly and recognising that I had no reason to feel shame or embarrassment was crucial.
The outcome of the second step was not guaranteed but I’m proof that seeking legal representation is at least worth considering if you believe there are fair reasons for removal.
By Raymond (name changed to protect identity)
- Comment – Let us know your thoughts on this post by commenting below
- Information – We have practical self-help information on retention and deletion of police cautions and convictions
- Discuss this issue – There are some interesting discussions related to this on our online forum.