Out-of-court disposals: policy change and review
As noted in the book, Chapter 5, there is a variety of ways in which cases may be disposed of without a court hearing – generically known as out-of-court disposals.
Since 2013, the Ministry of Justice has taken responsibility for policy developments in relation to out-of-court disposals. In April 2013, it issued guidance on the use of simple cautions; this was accompanied by a review of simple cautions, the results of which were published in September 2013. The Justice Secretary announced that, going forward, simple cautions would no longer be available for indictable only offences and certain serious either way offences involving possession of a knife, offensive weapon or firearm in a public place, offences involving child sex abuse or child pornography, and supplying Class A drugs. Exceptions will be made in certain cases and where a senior officer, as well as CPS if necessary, approves of their use.
In addition, the Secretary of State announced a more general review of the use of out-of-court disposals.
For links to current guidance on out-of-court disposals, see http://www.justice.gov.uk/out-of-court-disposals