Shropshire police hand out 1,676 cautions in 21 months
Police in Shropshire have issued 1,676 cautions over a 21-month period for offences including child-sex, firearms and drug trafficking.
West Mercia Police issued nearly three cautions a day in the county during the 21 months up until last month, with 871 being issued in Telford & Wrekin, and 805 across the rest of the county.
Those given a caution escape having to go to court and it does not show up on their record as a criminal conviction.
Officers today insisted the measure was only used after an investigation and when it was considered "proportionate".
West Mercia Police issued 1,676 cautions during the 21 months up until January 2017, including:
209 cases of shoplifting
36 cases of drug trafficking
16 for burglary
Three for arson
Six for possession of firearms, including one case of possession with intent
Six offences for sex assault on children under the age of 16
Four for child cruelty
Six for stalking
Four for aggravated vehicle taking
Eight for offences under the Obscene Publications Act
1,395 cautions were issued to adults, 281 to youths
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that 1,395 adults were let off with a caution, while 281 were issued to youths.
A total of 36 cautions were issued for drug-trafficking offences, as well as 16 for burglary, three for arson and six for possessing firearms – including one for possession with intent.
Eight people were cautioned for offences under the Obscene Publications Act, and six for sex assaults on children under the age of 16.
Four cautions were given for aggravated vehicle taking, another four for child cruelty, and six for stalking.
Other offences that were dealt with by way of a caution included threats to kill, assault within intent to cause serious harm, blackmail and theft by an employee, and racially or religiously aggravated assault, and indecent exposure or voyeurism.
The most common crimes included possession of drugs and shoplifting, which accounted for 209 cautions across the county.
In neighbouring Herefordshire, 1,038 cautions were issued over the same period of time, while in North Worcestershire the number of cautions was 848 and in South Worcestershire 2,016.
Detective chief inspector Paul Moxley said there were various reasons why cautions were given to the perpetrators of serious crime, although priority was always given to the views of the victim.
He said they were only ever given after a thorough investigation, and when they were considered proportionate to the nature of the offence.
West Mercia police and crime commissioner John Campion said cautions were one of many tools used by officers to deal with offenders.
"How frequently and in what instances they are used is an operational decision for officers to make," he said.
"I am reassured that West Mercia Police assess each situation to take the right course of action for the victims, the offender and our communities.
"As commissioner I will hold the Chief Constable to account to ensure this continues."