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Young Offenders: Sexual Offences

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 134625, tabled on 8 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many youth cautions have been given by the police for a sexual offence in England and Wales in each year from 2015.

Answered on

13 January 2021

There are two types of caution available for children aged 10-17: a youth caution and a youth conditional caution. These can be used as an alternative to prosecution for any offence admitted by a child where there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, but it is not in the public interest to prosecute. A youth conditional caution has conditions attached - where there is no reasonable excuse for non-compliance with conditions, criminal proceedings may be brought.

The table below shows the aggregated number of both types of youth caution where the principal offence (where there is more than one offence, the principal offence is the more serious) was a sexual offence. 8,552 cautions were issued to children in the year ending March 2019, meaning that cautions where the principal offence was a sexual offence made up around 2% of all cautions issued to children in that year.

Year ending March

Offence type

2015[1]

2016

2017

2018

2019

Sexual offences

303

277

248

151

133

This information can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/youth-justice-statistics-2018-to-2019 in the document "Youth Justice Statistics: 2018 to 2019: supplementary tables", chapter 1, table 1.12.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 significantly modernised and strengthened the laws on sexual offences in England and Wales to provide extra protection to people from sexual exploitation. The sentences available to the courts for offences under the Act are significant and reflect the seriousness of the offending.

The Home Office also publishes the investigative outcomes of crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, including the number resolved through a police caution. This data is published quarterly and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/police-recorded-crime-open-data-tables

Any discrepancies between the two sets of data are due to differences in recording practices.

[1] In the year ending March 2016 the offence groups used as the reason for giving a youth caution were updated to match the groups used in crime statistics. Therefore, data broken down by offence group from the year ending March 2016 onwards are not directly comparable with previous data.

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