Youth cautions

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2017/18, police issued cautions to children aged 10 to 17 years on 10,999 occasions, and the child’s ethnicity was recorded for 9,688 of them (88.1%)
  • White children received cautions on 8,018 occasions, which is 82.8% of all instances where ethnicity was recorded
  • Black children received cautions on 1,108 occasions, which is 11.4% of all instances where ethnicity was recorded
  • from 2005/06 to 2017/18, the total number of youth cautions given fell by 91% (from 122,282 to 10,999), and a decrease in the number of youth cautions was seen in every ethnic group
  • in the same period, the percentage of cautions that were given to White children decreased from 89.7% to 82.8%, while the percentage that were given to Black children increased from 5.9% to 11.4%
  • for comparison, at the time of the 2011 Census, 81.7% of all children aged 10 to 17 years in England and Wales were White, and 4.4% were Black
Things you need to know

Before 8 April 2013, police gave reprimands and final warnings to children aged 10 to 17 years, but they were replaced with youth cautions and youth conditional cautions. In this data, reprimands, final warnings and youth conditional cautions are all treated as though they were youth cautions.

If a child is cautioned for 2 or more offences at the same time, the police officer will record all offences in the Police National Computer (PNC). The data for the most serious offence is shown here.

The total figures for occasions include children whose ethnicity is not recorded in the PNC. Ethnicity has been recorded for at least 90% of cautions in every time period reported in this data except the most recent year (2017/18).

Ethnicity is identified and recorded by the police officer giving the caution, based on appearance, and is not self-defined by the child. Ethnicity has been consistently recorded in 4 broad categories: White, Black, Asian and Other (including Chinese).

What the data measures

This data measures the number of occasions where a youth caution was given to children aged 10 to 17 years.

The figures are taken from the Police National Computer (PNC). The PNC holds details of all convictions and cautions given for ‘recordable offences’. A recordable offence is an offence that the law says must be recorded on the PNC. It includes some offences where it is not possible for offenders to be sentenced to prison or other custody, and it excludes motoring offences.

For context, population figures for children aged 10 to 17 years in England and Wales are included, based on the 2011 Census. You can read more about the different age profiles of ethnic groups in England and Wales.

The ethnic categories used in this data

The analysis used the following 4 broad ethnic categories:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • White
  • Other (which includes Chinese and other ethnic groups)

2. By ethnicity over time

Number and percentage of youth cautions that were given to children from each ethnic group, over time
Asian Black White Other inc Chinese Unknown
Time % Value % Value % Value % Value % Value
2005/06 3.6 4,216 5.9 6,820 89.7 104,147 0.8 927 *N/A 6,172
2006/07 3.7 4,578 6.1 7,569 89.1 109,818 1.0 1,284 *N/A 8,411
2007/08 3.8 4,314 6.3 7,081 88.9 100,552 1.0 1,154 *N/A 7,157
2008/09 4.3 3,775 6.6 5,867 88.0 78,124 1.2 1,040 *N/A 4,850
2009/10 4.2 2,812 6.7 4,484 87.8 58,689 1.3 839 *N/A 3,910
2010/11 4.1 1,977 7.1 3,429 87.6 42,484 1.2 593 *N/A 2,131
2011/12 4.0 1,649 7.2 2,940 88.0 36,061 0.8 315 *N/A 1,248
2012/13 3.8 1,157 7.2 2,179 88.2 26,626 0.8 233 *N/A 1,056
2013/14 3.8 998 7.4 1,930 88.0 22,872 0.7 190 *N/A 1,025
2014/15 4.2 866 8.8 1,809 86.3 17,719 0.7 137 *N/A 1,210
2015/16 4.2 653 9.5 1,470 85.7 13,304 0.6 92 *N/A 1,323
2016/17 4.8 585 10.8 1,317 83.6 10,206 0.8 97 *N/A 1,374
2017/18 4.9 473 11.4 1,108 82.8 8,018 0.9 89 *N/A 1,311

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2017/18, police gave cautions to White children on 8,018 occasions, which is 82.8% of all youth cautions where ethnicity was recorded
  • in the same period, police gave cautions to Black children on 1,108 occasions, which is 11.4% of all youth cautions where ethnicity was recorded
  • from 2005/06 to 2017/18, the total number of youth cautions fell by 91%, from 122,282 to 10,999; all ethnic groups saw decreases in the number of youth cautions
  • in the same period, the percentage of cautions that were given to White children decreased from 89.7% to 82.8%, while the percentage that were given to Black children increased from 5.9% to 11.4%
  • the percentage of youth cautions given to children from Asian and Other ethnic groups stayed fairly constant over the period studied

3. Methodology

The figures are taken from the Police National Computer (PNC). The PNC holds details of all convictions and cautions given for ‘recordable offences’. A recordable offence is an offence that the law says must be recorded on the PNC. It includes some offences where it is not possible for offenders to be sentenced to prison or other custody, and it excludes motoring offences.

The PNC may be subject to some error arising from data entry and processing. The data for January to March 2018 is provisional and may change. Figures may vary from those previously published, due to minor changes in classifications and other data revisions.

Administrative data sources are reported exactly as they’re recorded, with no statistical methods like weighting applied. As with all large administrative data sources, some inaccuracies may exist.

Rounding

Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place.

Related publications

Youth Justice since 2008/09.

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Ministry of Justice

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The data is used by the government to develop, monitor and evaluate criminal justice policy for young offenders in England and Wales.

5. Download the data

Number_of_youth_cautions - Spreadsheet (csv) 7 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, and value