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Volume 463: debated on Monday 23 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many rapes have been committed by individuals under the age of 17 years in Northern Ireland in the last 10 years. (148058)

It is not possible to determine the number of rapes committed by individuals under the age of 17 in each of the last 10 years. However, information is available as to:

(a) the number of offences recorded by PSNI and cleared by issuing at least one person a charge or summons; and

(b) the number of prosecutions and convictions in the criminal courts in Northern Ireland.

Age-related data on rapes recorded and cleared by issuing a charge or summons are only available from 1 April 2001 until 31 March 2007. During this period, 34 rape offences were recorded and also cleared by a charge or summons in which the accused person was under the age of 171.

Between 1996 and 2005, the latest years for which data are available for prosecutions and convictions, there were seven prosecutions2 and no convictions for rape where the defendants were under the age of 173.

1PSNI follow Home Office counting rules which means that only one accused person is required to clear a crime, even in cases where there are multiple offenders. In this respect the figure noted may not include all persons under 17, if they were not the first person noted as clearing the crime.

2Data for prosecutions and convictions are collated on the principal offence rule; thus only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

3It is not possible routinely to compare data relating to the number charged or summoned for rape offences from recorded crime figures and data relating to the number of prosecutions and convictions, as these figures are collected on a different basis. PSNI recorded crime figures relate to the number of notifiable crimes reported and/or subsequently cleared; whereas figures for prosecutions and convictions refer to the number of offenders who have been subsequently brought before the criminal courts in Northern Ireland. In addition, PSNI recorded crime figures denote each offence as it has been initially recorded and this may differ from the offence for which a suspect or suspects are subsequently proceeded against in the courts.