Niall’s cautions had never really caused him too many problems until he wanted to live and work in China. He’d often wondered whether he’d been given the best advice by his solicitor after accepting the cautions and took the decision to apply to the police to have them deleted.
Although I’ll admit that I’d had a bit of a troubled past in my youth, I’d always felt that the four cautions I had on my criminal record shouldn’t have been there. They’d never really caused me too many problems until I tried applying for a visa to travel to China and then I realised that as far as travel was concerned, they were likely to be a huge problem. I realised that I’d need to apply to the police and make a request to have my cautions removed from the Police National Computer.
At this point, it’s probably useful to give you a bit of background about the cautions:
Caution 1 – This caution was for assault and happened when I was 15 years old and accidentally shot my friend in the face with a BB gun. There was no malice intended and my friend and I remain close to this day.
Cautions 2 and 3 – Both of these cautions were for criminal damage. The first was when I was with a friend who started a fire. We both received a caution even though there was no proof that I’d done anything wrong. The second caution came about after I accidentally set fire to my own garage whilst smoking a cigarette. My mother was happy to confirm in a letter to the police that the incident hadn’t incurred any considerable costs and she explained that at the time she’d explicitly told the police that she didn’t want me to be charged with anything, it was an accident.
Caution 4 – I was having an argument with my girlfriend when a passer-by wrongly assumed that I’d assaulted her and contacted the police. At the police station, I was advised by the duty solicitor to accept the caution for battery as it meant that I wouldn’t have to go to court and potentially receive a conviction. As I’d only been going out with the girl for a short period of time I really didn’t know what she was likely to say to the police and, as the relationship was extremely toxic, I felt there was every chance that she would lie. When I accepted the caution I was told that it would not appear on any criminal record check in the future.
When I was in the process of applying for my Chinese work visa, I contacted the girl concerned telling her about the problems that I was having. She agreed to write a statement explaining the events and absolving me of any wrongdoing. She offered to be interviewed by the police if they felt that it was necessary.
I read everything I could about how I could apply to get my cautions deleted and then set about gathering as much evidence as I could to explain my innocence. I then sent all the evidence, together with details of each caution to the ACRO Criminal Records Office.
With regard to caution 4, I applied for deletion on the grounds that improper advice and information was given to me at the time. Both the police and my solicitor had been aware that due to changes in legislation, my caution would remain on the PNC until I reached 100 years of age. However, they still urged me to accept it. If I’d known the consequences, I may have chosen to take a different course of action.
Having sent my letter and evidence to the Criminal Records Office, I was delighted to be told that my application had been successful and the four cautions were going to be removed. I was over the moon when I received my first totally blank DBS certificate.
After that, getting my work visa was much easier and I’m writing this article whilst living and working in China.
By Niall (name changed to protect identity)
Comment from Unlock
You have the right to ask the police to remove information under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR’s Right to Erasure. Generally however, the police will only remove cautions in exceptional circumstances and we’re delighted to see that having reviewed the evidence provided by Niall, they have taken the view that his cautions should be deleted.
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- Information – We have practical self-help information on retention and deletion of police cautions and convictions and travelling to China