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What is the difference between reprimand and a final warning and when are they used?


What is the difference between reprimand and a final warning and when are they used?


Reprimands and final warnings

These replace what used to be called “cautions”. A reprimand will be issued for a minor first offence.

If you commit a second offence—no matter how minor, you will be issued with a final warning by the police. It is also possible to get a final warning if your first offence is too serious for a reprimand.

If you have received a final warning and you offend again—no matter how minor the offence is—you are likely to be charged and sent to court.

Anybody between the ages of 10 and 18 years can receive a reprimand and/or final warning.

To receive a reprimand or final warning you must have admitted the offence and shown that you are sorry for the harm you have caused.

What Is a ‘Reprimand’?

  • A reprimand is given by a senior police officer if you have been arrested for an offence. There must be sufficient evidence for a prosecution.
  • A record of your reprimand is kept by the police until your 101st birthday and will be mentioned in any future court proceedings.

What Is A ‘Final Warning’?

  • A final warning will be given if the police decide they will not take your offence to court on this occasion. There must be sufficient evidence for a prosecution.
  • The final warning will be given by a senior police officer and afterwards the youth offending team will assess the likelihood of you offending again and may offer a programme to prevent you reoffending. The work will focus on any particular problems you may have and will always take into account the effects on any victims of your crime.
  •  If you offend again within two years you will be taken to court.

Reprimand received

Your details will automatically be passed to your local Youth Offending Team (YOT). The YOT will probably contact you and your parents / carers by phone and have a chat about you, your family and the events that led up to the reprimand.

Final warning received

You and your parents / carers will be contacted by your local YOT. In most cases a home visit will be arranged.

The purpose of these visits is to talk to you and your family about what led up to you receiving the final warning and to talk to you about your life style, school or college, your family and any problems you may or may not have.

YOT will also talk about the various schemes on offer in the borough to see if any suit you. If they feel that you would benefit from taking part in one of these schemes they will refer you.

Bailed for reprimand or final warning

If you are arrested, a police inspector will decide whether you will receive a reprimand, a final warning, or be charged to appear at Youth Court.

If it is your first offence and considered of a minor nature, you may be reprimanded by a police inspector before being released from custody. This reprimand will be recorded and will be referred to if you reoffend.

If you are aged between 10-13 years, you may be referred to the Youth Inclusion Support Panel (YISP).
If the offence for which you have been arrested is considered to be more serious, or you have already received a reprimand, a police inspector will consider your suitability for a Final Warning.

If you are suitable, you will be bailed for 28 days. During this time you will be contacted by a Police Officer from the Youth Offending Team, who will arrange to visit you at home with your parent/guardian. If this appointment is kept, the officer who visits your home will cancel your bail so that you will not have to return to the police station.

Following an assessment of your offending, a programme of intervention/support will be agreed and put into place, this will address the consequences of your offending behaviour and the consequences should you reoffend. You will also be expected to undertake a specified number of hours supervised reparation work. As part of the intervention programme you may be asked to meet the victim or the victim’s representative.

If you fail to meet with the YOT police officer after two appointments being made, you may be charged with the offence when you answer your bail at the police station.

Any unreasonable non compliance with the intervention programme could be cited in any future criminal proceedings should you reoffend and be prosecuted.

The purpose of the reprimand or final warning

You have been or will be given a reprimand or final warning as an alternative to being sent to court. This is not a ‘let off’.

The main objective is to help you not to break the law again.  

If you do break the law again you will more than likely be sent to the Youth Court. This can lead to you being found guilty and sentenced!

Do I have to accept advice or YOT assistance?

Any activity or assistance offered by the YOT is voluntary but take note of the following:-

  • The YOT have to record what contact they have with any child or young person who has received a REPRIMAND or FINAL WARNING. This record includes details of any scheme which is offered.
  • If you do break the law again and are sent to Court, the YOT can tell the Court whether you co-operated when help was offered.
  • If you ignore the service being offered by the YOT, any future sentence may be more severe.

Who are the Young Offenders team?

  • There is a YOT in every local authority in England and Wales. They are made up of representatives from the police, Probation Service, Social Services, Health, Education, Drugs and Alcohol misuse and Housing officers. Each YOT is managed by a YOT manager who is responsible for co-ordinating the work of the Youth Justice Services.
  • Because the YOT incorporates representatives from a wide range of services, it can respond to the needs of young offenders in a comprehensive way. The YOT identifies the needs of each young offender by assessing them with a national assessment. It identifies the specific problems that make the young person offend as well as measuring the risk they pose to others. This enables the YOT to identify suitable programmes to address the needs of the young person with the intention of preventing further offending.

YOT regional contact details

Will You have a Police Record?

Yes, the reprimand currently stays on your record until you reach 100. You will have a criminal record and you do have to tell employers or others about the offence, if applying for particular jobs, like police, nursing, teaching, caring for children.

Part of the programme may be reparation. Reparation is showing that you want to make up for the hassle caused. Your YOT worker will talk to you about your offence, the victim and how you feel before deciding what sort of reparation will be included as part of your programme.

Police Decision Process

Police Decision Process

Parents/carers please note!

If your child offends and is sent to Court, the Court HAS to consider placing YOU on a PARENTING ORDER, which can last up to 12 months!

If your child gets a reprimand, caution or conviction it can bar them from certain types of employment.
In the case of reprimands you may have been sent details of the YISP. It is up to you to contact these schemes, which include:

  • Youth activities
  • Sport
  • Mentoring
  • Skills workshops
  • Counselling
  • Drop ins
  • Youth clubs and organisations
  • Employment and training

If you need any advice on topics such as drugs, education or health, please contact the YOT and ask to speak to one of their specialist workers. They can also advise you about parenting support services available in your local area.

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