Lancashire Police are being challenged to prove to the public they are not “handing out cautions like confetti”.
Ribble Valley businessman Kevin Horkin, who is standing for the new post of Police and Crime Commissioner, says he is surprised by the high number of cautions issued for crimes such as robbery, violence, drugs offences, burglary and sex crimes, and believes the punishment should always fit the crime and claims cautions betray victims.
Now he is now calling on Chief Constable Steve Finnigan to explain why the Lancashire force issued 671 official cautions for violence, 209 cautions for burglary, 1,445 cautions for drugs offences, cautioned 50 sex offenders and even gave eight robbers a warning – instead of pursuing tougher sentences.
“Why are robbers, burglars, violent people and criminals who have committed drug and sex offences being let off with a caution?” asked Mr Horkin.
“If you were a victim of one of these crimes and had been expecting justice, you would feel utterly betrayed.”
Figures obtained from the Ministry Of Justice show more than 2,000 indictable offences committed in Lancashire in 2010 were dealt with by issuing a caution.
Mr Horkin added: “The public deserve to know if Lancashire police is handing out cautions like confetti.
“How on earth can eight robbers or 209 burglars, people who break into our property and steal from us, just walk away with a warning?.
“A caution is a soft option, and the Chief Constable needs to assure the public that he hasn’t gone soft on criminals.”
Earlier this month, county figures revealed overall crime had fallen by 3.1% from 102,496 to 99,336.
Mr Horkin said: “I have a healthy disregard for statistics, they can be interpreted in all sorts of ways.
“For example, the latest crime figures show reductions, but they also reveal that the number of incidents of violence with injury rose by almost 6%.
“Try telling a victim of a violent attack that the latest crime figures are good news.”
In November, Lancashire will elect a Police and Crime Commissioner, who will take over responsibility for policing from the Police Authority.