18,000 crimes across Humberside dealt with by police cautions in five years
More than 18,000 crimes in the region – many of them serious – have seen criminals escape with police cautions, new figures have shown.
Figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request from our sister paper the Hull Daily Mail show that Humberside Police has handed out cautions to offenders involved in more than 220 different categories of crime in the past five years.
Offenders responsible for crimes including poisoning, absconding from custody, making indecent photographs of children, and paying for sex with a child have been given the same punishment as people admitting minor crimes such as failing to wear a crash helmet.
The cautions have allowed offenders to avoid appearing in court and, in some cases, keep a clean criminal record.
Neil Eyre, an independent candidate for the Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner role, said cautions should not be given out for matters of serious crime.
He said: "If you give out too many cautions, you will not prevent offenders committing further crimes. When it comes to crime within what you would call a personal responsibility such as wearing a helmet or seatbelt, then I would agree a caution is acceptable.
"But when it comes to crimes against others, such as theft, criminal damage and aggressive behaviour, then the police should not be looking at a caution, but at bringing them before a judge or a jury."
Over the past five years, more than 5,700 cautions were given for common assault.
A further 1,165 cautions have been given for assaults occasioning actual bodily harm.
Shoplifters were cautioned on 1,120 occasions, with 18 cautions given to arsonists.
Other crimes for which people were given a caution include interfering with a witness, fraud and entering the country illegally. There was also one caution for kidnap, although police say the actual crime would have been less serious.
Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg, said he hoped to see a change in the number of cautions issued in the coming years. "I personally feel very uncomfortable that people are dealt with in this way, operating under this guidance," he said.
Colin Andrews, business manager in Humberside Police's Criminal Justice Unit (CJU), said: "The information given is not fully accurate in terms of classification.
"We do not caution for kidnap. It represents what the person was originally arrested for, or what the complaint made was logged as, but will not always represent what they were disposed for."
However, Mr Andrews did concede there would be cases where people would be cautioned for arson, burglary and supplying drugs.
"In the right circumstances, a caution can be effective," he said. "But there are times where a person who has been cautioned has gone on to commit further crime."