Almost half a million crimes were dealt with through cautions or other out-of-court powers in 2010.

Out-of-court sanctions also include reprimands, fixed penalty fines and restorative justice projects. The powers were expanded to help police clear up more crimes while at the same time avoid clogging up courts with minor offences.

....Mike Kennedy, chief operating officer for the Crown Prosecution Service, said out-of-court disposals were effective but needed "proper regulation, consistent application and public transparency".

He added: "It is very encouraging to see lower reoffending rates for conditional cautioning, which demonstrates that this alternative to a prosecution works.

"This report shows that out-of-court disposals benefit victims and witnesses."

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