National statistics on repeat sex offenders

Use our interactive tool to explore how, and why, cases drop out of the criminal justice system. In addition, investigations are becoming more complex due to an increase in evidence from phones, tablets, computers and social media. It provides information on the prevalence and nature of sexual assault from the Crime Survey for England and Wales CSEW and the journey of the victims, offences and offenders through the criminal justice system including:.

The aim of this article is to provide a better understanding of sexual offences than is possible from looking at individual data sources in isolation. Police recorded crime and outcomes data from the Home Office are classified as official statistics. Data from the CPS are sourced from administrative datasets that do not fall within the scope of official statistics. These factors, together with the time lag between different stages in the criminal justice system, mean that each section in this report does not necessarily refer to the same cohort of cases and so direct comparisons cannot be made across sections 1.

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However, looking at the different data sources together provides an overall picture of sexual offences and offenders through the criminal justice system. Figure 1 shows how cases move through the criminal justice system and how the different data sources included in this report relate to each other. Figure 1: How sexual offences progress through the criminal justice system Source: Office for National Statistics Download this image.

The CSEW collects information on sexual assaults via self-completion modules 2 asked of all adult respondents aged 16 to 59 years 3 resident in households 4 in England and Wales. Sexual assaults measured by the CSEW cover:. As the focus of this article is to provide a clear understanding of the recent picture of sexual offending, the CSEW data included relate to experiences in the 12 months prior to interview.

Due to the relatively low number of respondents that have been victims of sexual assault, data from the three most recent survey years have been combined and averaged to provide more robust estimates. Information from the CSEW on reporting rape or assault by penetration to the police is also included. The year ending March survey is the latest year for which this information is available as it is not collected every year.

The data have been combined with data from the year ending March survey when it was last previously collected. This provides a sufficient sample size to present results for both male and female victims. Data on the nature of rape or assault by penetration for these individual survey years yield similar results. One of the strengths of the CSEW is that it covers many crimes that are not reported to the police either by the victim or a third-party. Under-reporting to the police is particularly acute for sexual assaults, with many more offences committed than are reported to and recorded by the police.

The CSEW provides reliable estimates of the prevalence of sexual assaults using a consistent methodology. It is not affected by changes in recording practices and police activity or by changes in the propensity of victims to report to the police. Further detailed information on the nature of sexual assaults can also be found in Sexual offences in England and Wales, year ending March Sexual offences recorded by the police are grouped into two main categories — rape and other sexual offences.

The other sexual offences category covers a broader range of offences than the CSEW, for example, sexual exploitation of children, incest and sexual grooming. Given the broader range of offences covered in police recorded crime and other differences described in this section, these figures are not directly comparable with the estimates from the CSEW.

For example, from July , the counting rules for rape were changed to record one crime for each perpetrator.

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In the CSEW only one incident would be counted regardless of the number of perpetrators involved. In this article, the police data for sexual offences cover those crimes reported to and recorded by the police during the year ending March Therefore, they relate to a different period of time than the CSEW data. The volume of sexual offences handled by the police is much lower than victimisation levels estimated by the CSEW because of a high level of under-reporting to the police.

The police figures are also influenced by changes in recording practices and the willingness of victims to report to the police, which makes interpreting trends difficult.

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Re-inspections of some forces since then show improvements in recording, which have resulted in increases in the volume of sexual offences recorded by the police. However, the level of improvement varies between forces and some have further work to do to ensure that all reports of crime are recorded correctly. High-profile media coverage of sexual offences and the police response to reports of non-recent sexual offending in recent years, for example, the Me too movement metoo is also likely to have influenced trends in police recorded sexual offences.

Victims are thought to be more likely to report both recent and non-recent offences as a result. This report also includes information taken from the Home Office Data Hub 6. The majority of police forces use the Data Hub but some information is only available for a subset of forces, depending on the quality of information supplied. The Home Office are continuing to develop and implement this system. The Ministry of Justice MoJ collate data on court proceedings via extracts from court database administrative systems.

All MoJ statistics presented in this article cover the year ending December and represent court proceedings completed in that year. The figures given relate to persons for whom the principal offence was a sexual offence, unless stated otherwise.


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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. The Crown Prosecution Service CPS is the principal prosecuting authority for England and Wales, acting independently in criminal cases investigated by the police and others. CPS rape-flagged data are dependent upon lawyers and administrative staff correctly identifying applicable cases and flagging these on the CMS. These data are accurate only to the extent that flags have been correctly applied.

A rape offence flag may be applied at the beginning of a case, or applied later in the prosecution process if evidence of rape becomes apparent.

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The rape flag will remain in place, even if the decision is taken to charge an offence other than rape. This is why the cases are referred to as rape-flagged rather than rape. CPS data presented in this article cover the year ending March The MoJ and CPS measure prosecutions and convictions differently according to their different purposes.

MoJ data will count a rape conviction only where the final principal conviction is specifically for rape. A case that initially started as a rape but was eventually convicted as an alternative offence such as a lesser sexual assault would be counted under the alternative offence. This difference leads to the CPS recording a much larger number of prosecutions and convictions for rape than the MoJ. Figure 2 shows how different cases would be counted in MoJ data. In each of these cases, the prosecution and potential conviction for CPS data would be rape. For example, a case reported to the police in one year may not appear with an outcome after investigation until the next year, or a case with a prosecution outcome in one year may have been initially reported to the police in a previous year.

Since April , the upper age limit for the self-completion modules has been extended to 74 years. However, most of the information in this article is based on those aged 16 to 59 years because of the need to combine three survey years of data. Data for to year-olds are provided separately in accompanying tables.

The CSEW does not cover the population living in group residences or other institutions for example, care homes or halls of residence , nor does it cover the population not resident in households for example, tourists or visitors. Information on causing sexual activity without consent has been collected in the CSEW since April and this is the first time it has been included in the estimates. The Home Office Data Hub is a live database that allows police forces to provide the Home Office with record-level information on every crime recorded in a year.

The CPS collects data to assist in the effective management of its prosecution functions and therefore do not collect data that constitute official statistics as defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act The Crime Survey for England and Wales CSEW estimated that approximately , adults aged 16 to 59 years had experienced sexual assault in the 12 months prior to interview 1. This is equivalent to 2. The majority of victims were female, with approximately , female victims and , male victims.

Women were nearly four times as likely as men to have experienced sexual assault in the last year 3. Figure 3: Unwanted touching was the most common type of sexual assault experienced in the last year for both men and women Adults aged 16 to 59 years, England and Wales, year ending March to year ending March Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics Download this chart Image.


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  • Both men and women in younger age groups were more likely to be victims of sexual assault than those in the older age groups CSEW Table 7 2. There has been some fluctuation in the prevalence of sexual assault experienced among adults aged 16 to 59 years over the long-term, but the estimate for the latest year is similar to a decade ago. A significant increase to 2. It is too early to say whether this increase is the beginning of an upward trend or another fluctuation in the series, similar to those seen previously.

    Figure 4: Following long-term stability in the prevalence of sexual assault, an increase in the latest year was driven largely by increases in unwanted touching and indecent exposure Adults aged 16 to 59 years, England and Wales, year ending March to year ending March Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics Notes: The sample size is lower for some years due to split-sample experiments. Estimates are calculated from new questions from the year ending March onwards.

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    Previous estimates are calculated from the original questions with an adjustment applied to make them comparable to the new questions. The new offence category of "Causing sexual activity without consent" is not included in this chart to provide a comparable time series.

    Download this chart Image. Further detailed information can also be found in Sexual offences in England and Wales, year ending March However, reporting rates for these offences are likely to be lower than for rape and assault by penetration, given the nature of the offences.

    Figure 5: Embarrassment was the most common reason for victims not reporting to the police Adults aged 16 to 59 years, England and Wales, year ending March and year ending March Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics Download this chart Image. The first stage that a sexual offence can enter the criminal justice system is when the police record a crime or a crime-related incident. The police recorded , sexual offences in the year ending March HO Table 1.

    This figure is not directly comparable with the number of victims estimated by the Crime Survey for England and Wales CSEW as police data cover a broader range of offences and includes offences against children and those living in institutions. Data from the Home Office Data Hub 1 show that females aged 10 to 14, 15 to 19 and 20 to 24 years were disproportionately more likely to be victims of sexual offences recorded by the police than any other age group. Similarly, males aged 5 to 9, 10 to 14 and 15 to 19 years were disproportionately more likely to be victims HO Tables 23 and Sexual offences experienced by under 16s are not covered in the CSEW figures.

    Some victims will report more than one incident to the police, which means that the number of crimes recorded by the police will be higher than the number of victims reporting those crimes.

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    The number of police recorded sexual offences has almost tripled since the year ending March The sharp increase can be seen in both rape and other sexual offences Figure 6. Figure 6: Police recorded sexual offences are at the highest level recorded since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in April Year ending March to year ending March Source: Police recorded crime, Home Office Notes: The Sexual Offences Act , introduced in May , altered the definition and coverage of sexual offences.

    From July , the Home Office counting rules in regards to rape were changed to record rape on a per offender basis. Operation Yewtree is the police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse, launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal. The increases seen largely reflect improvements made by the police in how they record these crimes and an increased willingness of victims to come forward and report.

    Although the CSEW has estimated an increase in prevalence over the same period, this increase is much smaller than seen in police recorded offences. This highlights that victims are more likely to report rape to the police than other sexual offences. However, there were notable differences between the CSEW and police recorded offences in who the perpetrator was.

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