Police Cautions, Warnings and Penalty Notices

The police or Crown Prosecution Service can give you a caution (warning) or a penalty notice if you commit a minor crime.  


Cautions are given to anyone aged 10 or over for minor crimes - for example writing graffiti on a bus shelter.  

You have to admit an offence and agree to be cautioned. You can be arrested and charged if you do not agree.  

A caution is not a criminal conviction, but it could be used as evidence of bad character if you go to court for another crime.  

Cautions can show on standard and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (external link) 

Conditional cautions  

You have to stick to certain rules and restrictions as part of a conditional caution, eg: 

  • going for treatment for drug abuse 

  • fixing damage to a property  

You could be charged with a crime if you do not stick to the conditions.  

Penalty notices for disorder 

Penalty notices for disorder are given for offences like:  

  • shoplifting  

  • possessing cannabis  

  • being drunk and disorderly in public  

You can only get a penalty notice if you are 18 or over. 

You will be asked to sign the penalty notice ticket. You will not get a criminal conviction if you pay the penalty.  

You can ask for a trial if you disagree with the penalty notice. You will get a bigger fine if you do not ask for a trial but do not pay the fine.  

You can pay a fixed penalty online (external link)