Record numbers convicted of sex crimes

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Oct 10, 2017
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The number of convictions for rape rose by 79 per cent over the past decade

Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Record numbers of defendants are being convicted of rape and sexual crimes, with more than a third of all cases involving abuse of children.

Child sexual abuse prosecutions rose by 82 per cent over the past decade and now make up a third of 13,700 all convictions in 2016-17 for sexual offences in England and Wales – a rise of more than 15 per cent in the past year, the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday.

Rape convictions and prosecutions are also dramatically higher, with prosecutions up by nearly 12 per cent in the past year and convictions by 11.2 per cent, to 5,190 and 2,991 respectively, the figures show.

Yet the huge rises in successful prosecutions come alongside a fall in prosecutions and convictions for domestic abuse, which is attributed to a two-year drop in police referrals of cases. A Whitehall initiative is underway to tackle the fall in referrals from police  from 117,882 in 2015-16 to 110,833 last year, a drop of 6 per cent or 7,049 referrals. The number of suspects charged fell by 3.3 per cent.

Similarly, there was a drop in prosecutions over the year of 7.3 per cent, although there have been 309 charges made under the new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour that then reached a first hearing.

The fall in referrals was identified three years ago by the Labour party, which disclosed significant disparities between forces, partly because of reduced resources and different priorities. Yesterday’s figures were released in the 10th annual report of the CPS, which refers in its title to “violence against women and girls”, although the figures also includes men and boys.

It shows a massive rise in convictions for rape of 48 per cent and of 79 per cent over the decade, reflecting in part a greater awareness, fuelled by the CPS’s own campaign on sex crime and also the surge in historical sexual abuse cases after the death of Jimmy Savile, the TV personality, in 2011.

There has also been a rise in sex crimes using the internet, with the number of so-called revenge porn cases more than doubling in the past year from 206 to 465. There have also been more prosecutions for new offences, such as rape pornography – rising from three to 24 – and for possession of a paedophile manual, up from one to 14.

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “Over the past ten years the CPS has made significant strides in prosecuting [these] offences. More offenders are being successfully prosecuted for sexual crimes than ever before, including those committed against children.”

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