Source: (2007) Policing and Society. 17(2): 141-163.In 1994, Thames Valley Police (in the UK) began experimenting with restorative justice cautioning, in the Milton Keynes area. Other pilot programmes (most notably in Aylesbury) soon followed. The initiative was enthusiastically promoted by the then Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Sir Charles Pollard. One of his central claims was that re-offending rates had declined from 30% to 4% in Aylesbury as a result of restorative cautioning. This remarkable claim was instrumental in persuading key individuals, both within and outside Thames Valley Police, that greater use should be made of restorative methods within criminal justice. This paper subjects that claim to empirical scrutiny (and finds it baseless) as well as exploring what this episode reveals about the nature of relations between the police and the media. (author's abstract).