Understanding Police Cautions: How Long Do Cautions Stay On Your Record?

Introduction: How Long Do Cautions Stay On Your Record?

Police cautions, warnings, and reprimands are usually administered for minor offences, but can occasionally have consequences for your personal and professional life – so knowing how long cautions will stay on your record, and whether they’ll appear on your DBS check is an important consideration.

What Are Police Cautions?

A police caution is a formal warning issued when an individual voluntarily admits to committing a minor offence. While not a criminal conviction, it signifies an acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

Youth Cautions are the same as regular cautions, but are handed out to culprits who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offence.

Cautions are similar in practice to police warnings and reprimands – this guide applies to those too.

How long do cautions stay on your record?

This is really the wrong question to ask, because the caution will never be removed from the Police National Computer. However, they are eventually ‘Spent‘ meaning employers can’t hold them against you, and you aren’t legally required to divulge them.

After becoming spent, cautions can also be ‘Filtered‘, meaning they won’t be disclosed on DBS checks whatsoever. This effectively removes them from your record, since they won’t ever be disclosed by any checks, under any circumstances. However, the police will still hold the offence on their files indefinitely.

Some cautions will never be filtered, if the caution was handed down for a “specified offence”. Typically, specified offences are offences of a violent or sexual nature – a full list can be downloaded and viewed on the government website.

how long do cautions stay on your record

How Long Do Cautions Stay On Your RecordAdults (Ages 18 and over)

 Simple cautions are “spent” immediately from the time of issue, meaning there is no requirement to disclose them to employers.

 This is different for Conditional Cautions, which only become spent after 3 months. In the meantime, they will be disclosed on all 3 levels of DBS check.

 Once spent, cautions will still appear on Standard and Enhanced DBS checks.

 After 6 years, the caution will be “filtered”, meaning they will no longer appear on DBS checks.

How Long Do Cautions Stay On Your RecordYouth Cautions (Under-18s)

– For those under 18 when the offence was committed, the caution will immediately become “spent” meaning there is no requirement to disclose them to employers.

– Whether a Youth Caution is spent or filtered doesn’t really matter, since Youth Cautions, Warnings, and Reprimands are never disclosed on DBS checks.

– This is different for Youth Conditional Cautions, which only become spent after 3 months. After becoming spent, they will still be disclosed on Standard and Enhanced DBS Certificates.

 If the individual complies with the conditions of their caution, it will be filtered after 2 years, meaning it won’t be disclosed on DBS checks.

How Long Do Cautions Stay On Your Record: DBS Checks

No matter what sort of caution, warning, or reprimand you have, the chances it will affect your employment is very slim, because employers may only take into consideration unspent convictions and cautions during the hiring process. This means that, unless you’ve been handed a conditional caution in the past 3 months, you don’t have to worry at all about your caution affecting your employment opportunities. You can use this government tool to check whether your cautions are spent or not.

We’ll break down which sorts of cautions will be disclosed on the different DBS certificates:

Basic DBS Checks

Only conditional cautions will show on a Basic DBS check, and only for the first 3 months following the offence. This is because only Unspent convictions and cautions are disclosed on Basic certificates (simple cautions are immediately spent, and conditional cautions are spent 3 months after being handed).

Standard DBS Checks

Standard DBS checks will disclose all unfiltered cautions, whether they’re spent or unspent. However, if your caution is spent, the employer may not take it into consideration when assessing you for the role being applied for.

Enhanced DBS Checks

Enhanced DBS checks disclose the exact same things as Standard checks when it comes to cautions. There is one small technicality which may result in filtered cautions being disclosed, but the chances of this happening are incredibly low…

For Enhanced DBS checks, the individual branches of the UK’s regional police can opt to disclose anything on their database that they consider to be relevant for the job role being applied for. Because filtered cautions are still retained on the Police National Computer, this can hypothetically lead to filtered cautions being disclosed on Enhanced DBS checks (but like we say, the chances of this happening are incredibly low).

how long do cautions stay on your record

Summary: How Long Do Cautions Stay On Your Record?

Cautions remain on your criminal record forever, but are only disclosed on DBS checks (the only way for other people to actually check your criminal record) in specific, rare cases. Even if a caution does appear on your DBS check, employers will usually be forbidden from taking it into consideration during the hiring process, due to the fact that cautions (except conditional cautions) are instantly ‘spent’ upon being handed down.

How Aaron’s Department Can Help

For all of your DBS requirements, Aaron’s Department is here to help. We offer fast, affordable, and error-proof DBS checks for employers – follow the link to read more about what we offer.

From 8:00am to 5:00pm, our Operations Team are available to help with any queries you may have. Give us a call on 0113 877 0171, or email contact@aaronsdepartment.com

how long do cautions stay on your record

Further Reading

We hope you have found our article, “How long do cautions stay on your record” useful – we’ve linked below some other of our articles you might find helpful too.

About The Author

Kellie Dawson

Kellie Dawson

Kellie is our in-house legal expert when it comes to DBS checks. With a background in the legal sector, she has become a recognised authority in this area.

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