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Police face criticism after rapists let off with a caution


London : Police in Britain’s Avon and Somerset have been criticised for letting off over 600 self-confessed sex offenders, including 11 rapists, with a caution in the past five years, a media report said Monday.

Daily Express reported that figures from Avon and Somerset police show the force, since 2004, had issued 611 cautions as punishment for crimes that included rape and child abuse.

Women’s rights activists described the figures as “deeply shocking”.

“Rape and sexual assault are serious offences and have a damaging impact on the women and men that suffer as a result.

“They need justice. What message does this send about the value of victims? I’m disappointed to see the figures are this high and I’d hope they would improve in the very near future,” Vanessa Powell, manager of Bristol Rape Crisis, a support service for the victims of crime, was quoted as saying.

The details were released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The figures reveal that four of the 11 rapists had admitted the rape of a child under 13. It also showed that 74 sexual assaults on women, seven on men and 28 on children were dealt with by caution.

The media report said that four cautions were given for incest or family sexual offences and two for abuse of children through prostitution or pornography.

“I think the main problem in not bringing these people to justice is that women affected often find it difficult to get closure.

“If reporting a rape doesn’t give them the chance to get justice, it also prevents other women from coming forward and having faith in the system. The sheer number of these attacks is shocking, let alone that these are just for those who have been cautioned,” Daily Express quoted Sian Norris of Bristol Feminist Network as saying.

Detective Inspector Marie Wright said: “Cautions for sexual offences are issued on rare and exceptional occasions in accordance with national guidance. There would need to be evidence and a clear admission of guilt, while age, welfare, mental well-being and the views of the victim would be taken into account.”