An analysis of how the police ‘caution’ is presented to juvenile suspects in England

In England and Wales, suspects must be given a police caution before they are questioned. The purpose of the caution is to explain a suspect's right to silence as a protection against self-incrimination. However, the evidence on whether the caution fulfils its purpose is limited. The aim of the...

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Published in:Psychology, crime & law
Main Author: Sim, Megan Pei Ying (Author)
Contributors: Lamb, Michael E. (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2018
In:Psychology, crime & law
Year: 2018, Volume: 24, Issue: 8, Pages: 851-872
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:In England and Wales, suspects must be given a police caution before they are questioned. The purpose of the caution is to explain a suspect's right to silence as a protection against self-incrimination. However, the evidence on whether the caution fulfils its purpose is limited. The aim of the present study was to describe how cautions were delivered in interviews with juvenile suspects in England. First, the study set out to describe how the caution was delivered to suspects during actual police interviews. Second, the study examined whether suspects claimed or demonstrated understanding of the caution. Third, the study analysed how the caution was explained by police officers. In total, the study examined 38 cautions from 31 interviews. The results indicated that police officers delivered the caution at a speed that is likely to be too fast for juvenile suspects to comprehend. Juvenile suspects often claimed to understand the caution, but when asked, failed to demonstrate comprehension. On the other hand, police officers often explained the caution to juvenile suspects, but not always correctly. Both suspects’ and police officers’ explanations of the caution revealed several misconceptions. The results suggest that the caution may not safeguard suspects as intended.
ISSN:1477-2744
DOI:10.1080/1068316X.2018.1442449