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Russell Webster does a deep dive into new data which reveals that most perpetrators of sexual offences are never brought to justice. Date - 22nd December 2018 By - Russell Webster 2 Comments Last week the Office for National Statistics published a new report which went mainly unnoticed by journalists focusing on Mrs May’s latest trials and tribulations. “Sexual offending: victimisation and the path through the criminal justice system” provides an overview of sexual offending in England and Wales, bringing together a wide range of official statistics to give a picture of the prevalence of sexual offences, their reporting and recording and what happens to those who are charged with sexual offences. By assembling all the relevant information together in one publication, the ONS has provided a valuable service for anyone seeking to get an understanding of sexual offending. The report’s overall conclusion is a powerful and dispiriting one − the majority of cases of sexual offending do not come to the attention of the police, and many of those that do, do not result in a conviction for the perpetrator. In fact, many offences don’t proceed further than the police investigation due to evidential difficulties. Here are the report’s main findings: The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that approximately 700,000 people aged 16 to 59 years were victims of a sexual assault in the last year. The majority of these cases will not enter the criminal justice system. Less than one in five victims of rape or assault by penetration reported their experience to the police. The volume of sexual offences recorded by the police has almost tripled in recent years. However, these increases largely reflect improvements in police recording and more victims being willing to report. The number of offences recorded by the police remains well below the number of victims. Of the offences that do come to the attention of the police, many don’t progress further through the criminal justice system. There has been a decrease in the proportion of cases resulting in a charge or summons outcome. This decline may be, in part, due to resource pressures on the police following the substantial increase in recorded sexual offences. This includes non-recent cases, which may take longer to investigate before an outcome can be assigned. Offences have also become increasingly complex, which can increase the time it takes to consider all the evidence. Half of all sexual offences recorded by the police didn’t proceed further through the criminal justice system due to evidential difficulties. This figure reflects the challenges involved in investigating sexual offences, despite the majority of suspects being identified. The Ministry of Justice recorded a 10 per cent decrease in defendants proceeded against at magistrates’ courts for sexual offences in 2017. This is similar to the percentage reduction seen in police charges. Crown Prosecution Service data show that three in five of rape-flagged prosecutions and four in five of prosecutions for other sexual offences resulted in a conviction. Of those that did not result in a conviction, over half were due to acquittals. A further 16 per cent of rape-flagged cases and 13 per cent of other sexual offences that did not result in a conviction were due to victim retraction, victim non-attendance or evidence of the victim not supporting the case. Conclusion The main trends are clear. Most sexual offences are not reported to the police. The police only succeeding in progressing half of those which are reported through the criminal justice system. Less than two thirds (62 per cent) of all those prosecuted for sexual offences are convicted and only just over one in three (36 per cent) of those prosecuted for rape are found guilty. It is, however, true that those who are found guilty are likely to be sent to prison for an increasing length of time. Average custodial sentence length (ACSL) has risen across all sexual offences between 2012 and 2017. The ACSL for rape in 2012 was eight years eight months while just five years later it had risen to nine years 10 months. The bottom line though is that most people committing sexual offences get away from it. My analysis of the report revealed that although it was estimated that 700,000 people were sexually assaulted last year, just 6,877 individuals were convicted of a sexual offence – not even one percent. No wonder the #MeToo movement struck a chord with so many women. View On Police Oracle