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Offences against Children: Prosecutions

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prosecutions for offences relating to child abuse there have been in each local authority area since 1997. (280667)

The number of persons proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for sexual offences against children, 2004 to 2007 is shown in the table. As there is no specific offence of “child abuse,” statistics are only provided where the age of the victim can be identified as a child from the description of the offence. The term “child abuse” describes harm caused to a child arising from emotional, physical, sexual abuse or neglect caused by a parent, guardian, carer, or stranger. A number of other offences such as offences against the person including physical assault may frequently be used by the police to charge offenders.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 significantly modernised and strengthened the laws on sexual offences in England and Wales to provide extra protection to children from sexual exploitation. This makes direct comparisons with previous legislation very difficult. Many new offences created by the Act will not have a direct equivalent under the old legislation.

These data are on the principal offence basis. The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences, the offence selected is the one for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Court proceedings data for 2008 will be available in the autumn of 2009.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts for offences relating to child abuse1 England and Wales, by police force area, 2004-071,2,3,4

Police force area

20045

2005

2006

2007

Avon and Somerset

66

110

88

81

Bedfordshire

27

46

37

32

Cambridgeshire

34

58

41

56

Cheshire

44

80

62

81

City of London

1

Cleveland

27

43

58

60

Cumbria

21

46

32

48

Derbyshire

49

100

86

89

Devon and Cornwall

21

65

94

110

Dorset

18

29

33

28

Durham

49

67

72

68

Essex

52

58

54

24

Gloucestershire

18

37

40

45

Greater Manchester

159

234

248

245

Hampshire

105

134

129

195

Hertfordshire

40

65

82

39

Humberside

48

55

61

53

Kent

47

39

33

49

Lancashire

81

159

149

155

Leicestershire

49

66

78

78

Lincolnshire

52

59

54

51

Merseyside

49

60

60

90

Metropolitan Police

356

495

483

452

Norfolk

22

44

41

53

North Yorkshire

39

42

69

59

Northamptonshire

18

30

24

11

Northumbria

56

121

122

129

Nottinghamshire

68

91

92

80

South Yorkshire

61

89

85

101

Staffordshire

91

89

91

72

Suffolk

28

59

60

48

Surrey

17

50

39

44

Sussex

27

73

79

79

Thames Valley

40

122

112

139

Warwickshire

13

30

22

34

West Mercia

60

88

88

98

West Midlands

308

286

332

293

West Yorkshire

117

159

130

140

Wiltshire

25

54

38

34

Dyfed-Powys

41

25

24

26

Gwent

51

79

52

54

North Wales

50

56

49

25

South Wales

120

117

108

130

England and Wales

2,664

3,810

3,731

3,778

1 Includes the following offences:

Causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable person.

Cruelty or neglect of children.

Abandoning children under two years.

Sexual assault of a male child aged under 13.

Rape, attempted rape of a male or female aged under 13 or under 16.

Sexual assault of a female child aged under 13.

Sexual activity with a male or female child aged under 13.

Sexual activity with a male or female aged under 16.

Familial sexual offences of a male or female child aged under 13.

Abuse of children aged under 18 through prostitution and pornography.

Abuse of trust sexual offences against a child aged under 18.

Meeting a male or female aged under 16 following sexual grooming.

2 Covers offences which identify the victim as a minor at the time the offence was committed.

3 The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

4 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

5 The Sexual Offences Act came into force on 1 May 2004.

Source:

Office for Criminal Justice Reform—Evidence and Analysis Unit. Ministry of Justice.