I have received from my own MP a copy of a letter from Crispin Blunt MP, an Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice. Mr Blunt explains that he is the Minister responsible for policy on 'Out-of-Court Disposals' which includes simple cautions. Mr Blunt is anxious to point out that the Home Office Guidance 016/2008 does not stipulate cautions in any particular case, rather the use of cautions is 'an operational decision to be taken by the police'.
Judging by rather better action taken by Greater Manchester Police recently, Mr Blunt may be right that the Home Office Guidance did not quite force the Thames Valley Police to issue a simple caution, in the way they have contended, to the man who pushed me from my bike last December.
Mr Blunt goes on to say that although the Government is satisfied that the circular does not stipulate the use of cautions in any particular case, the Government is considering its approach to out-of -court disposals such as simple cautions as part of a full assessment of sentencing policy. A Ministry of Justice consultation has been taking place (it closed on 4th March, Mr Blunt's letter is dated 9th March). There is a section on
'A simpler framework for out-of-court disposals' which appears to me to be proposing a greater discretion to police. Had I been in time to respond, I would have urged that there should be a strong presumption against the use of a caution in crimes of violence against vulnerable road users.
On a more positive note, I have received the name and address of my assailant from Thames Valley Police and will probbaly take the trouble to sue him. If he is not to be hauled before a criminal court, I can at least haul him before a civil one. I appreciate that the recovery of damages may be an uncertain and uphill struggle but I would like him to face some consequences for his actions.