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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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In about July 2009 I went to Dunelm Mills in Harrow. I parked

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In about July 2009 I went to Dunelm Mills in Harrow. I parked in the car park and on the floor by my car was a duvet cover in plain packaging. I picked it up and as there were people getting into their cars, I asked 3 different people if they had dropped it. They all said 'no', they hadn't seen anyone drop it so I put it into the boot of my car and went into Dunelm Mills. I purchased what I wanted to there and then went home.

3 months later, in October 2009, there was a knock on my door at about 08:00. 2 police officers (a PC & a WPC) were at my door and they were placing me under arrest for theft of a duvet cover. The PC wanted to handcuff me, the WPC said there was no need. They said they were going to search the house as they had a warrant and di I want to admit to anything before they did this. On the doorstep I said I had found a duvet cover, I'd asked people if it was theirs'. They said they were arresting me for theft and took me to the police station. Another PC was driving.

On the way to the station in the car they were asking if anyone else was with me at the time - I said no. They also talked about what had happened. Someone had gone into the shop - ran out with a load of duvet covers and asked me if I was connected to that person and they were convinced I didn't know they the other person. I asked if they had caught the person who had stolen goods, to which they replied they had not and the only reason they traced me was through my credit card.

We eventually got to the police station, where they locked me in a cell for about 45 minutes. I had to go to the desk to give my details and when they found out I was a teacher they started laughing.

They took me out of the cell, took my fingerprints and a swab and photographs. They sat me down at the table, put a tape recorded on. I related again what happened. They said they were going to give me a caution and I signed the statement. They then let me go.

I was offered a solicitor, but as I hadn't done anything and I was a single parent with no money and I was in shock, I declined. They said they had to caution me.

As I am now moving jobs to other schools, this caution appears on my CRB as theft. A PC I know said they should have charged me with theft by finding. Where do I stand with this now? Can I challenge this conviction / caution and have it removed? Can I have it changed to theft by finding?


Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

So, in short you've accepted a caution?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

At the time I was written off work for depression and when in the police station I was very scared and too embarrass to involve anyone else.

I have never in my life stolen anything and would have never gone into the shop and stolen the cover. As far as I am concerned I had just found it. I did not know that the item had been stolen I thought someone had dropped it.

I did sign a document accepting a caution but I would not have signed it if it had stated that I was being cautioned for theft.

From the point of my statement it states that I found the cover.

Thanks for the detail and I understand that you want to tell me everything but I need to get to the bottom of the relevant issues.

Have you accepted a caution? Yes or no is fine.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes I think I must have done, I do recall signing something.


Was this on 2009 or thereabouts?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.



And you now want to try to remove it?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes if possible or at least have it changed to theft by finding.

I am sorry but its bad news then.

There is no appeal from a caution. Its like a guilty plea. You would only be appealing from yourself. You have to admit the offence to be cautioned or sign the officer's notebook.

It is possible to appeal a guilty plea at court but only on the basis that the plea was not equivocal and so you lay yourself open to the risk of the Crown demanding a trial to prove innocence or guilt. That is not a good idea usually. In any event, that doesn't apply to a caution.

The only appeal option from a caution is to judicially review the decision to offer a caution. That is an extremely expensive action with a very high test. Also, you are out of time now as it needs to be done within three months and that is fairly vigorously enforced.

What might be a better option here is to concentrate on asking DBS To remove the caution from your CRB check.

There is a bill currently being considered by Parliament that will mean that cautions will drop off even enhanced checking after six years which might assist you soon.

I'm very sorry but I can only give you truthful information.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for the information. Today I did contact the DBS to have the information changed or removed and the DBS office said that they can not change or remove it and that I must contact my local police station and speak to the data protection department.

Thats because they think you are saying that the caution is wrong which would be a DPA issue.

If its just that you would rather it isn't there then thats a DBS issue. Its too late to argue its wrong now I'm afraid.
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