Child sex abusers evade justice as police send fewer cases to prosecutors

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Figures uncovered by shadow home secretary show one-third fewer cases referred to Crown Prosecution Service since 2011

Image of Jimmy Savile and Margaret Thatcher
Jimmy Savile and Margaret Thatcher

Sex offenders are evading justice because the number of child sex abuse cases being sent for prosecution by the police has dropped by nearly one-third over the past two years, according to official figures uncovered by the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper.

The detailed statistics from the solicitor-general, Oliver Heald, show the number of child sexual abuse cases being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service by police forces across England and Wales has fallen by 28% from a peak of 13,018 in 2010-11 to 9,381 in 2012-13. This is the lowest level for more than five years and comes over a period when the number of such cases reported to the police has risen steadily to a record high of 18,915 in 2012-13.

The rise has partly been a consequence of victims coming forward following publicity surrounding the high-profile Operation Yewtree investigation into widespread allegations of child abuse by Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011, and others.

The detailed figures, based on a Commons written answer by the solicitor-general, show the proportion of reported sexual offences against children that have led to a pre-charge decision being made against a suspect has fallen from 75% in 2008-09 to just under 50% in 2012-13.

The fall in the rate of child sex abuse cases being considered for prosecution mirrors similar patterns in rape and domestic violence cases, where an increasing number of cases are being reported to the police but fewer are being referred for prosecution.

Cooper said the figures showing the sharp fall in the number of child sex abuse cases being sent by the police for prosecution were “extremely shocking”, and that a reduction in specialist police child protection units was a possible explanation.

“This is an appalling drop of nearly a third in the number of child abuse cases that the police are referring for prosecution, even though more cases are coming forward. It shows the disgraceful way the police have been hollowed out by Theresa May, with so many specialist child protection units also being cut, letting victims down and letting abusers off,” she said.

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