There has been an outraged response to the revelation that rapists and sex offenders can escape prison if they apologise to their victims.
58 sexual offenders, including rapists and paedophiles, have avoided custodial sentences and instead been handed community-based orders by the police These orders were originally designed to punish minor offences, not to keep paedophiles on the streets. Community resolution orders mean that the offence is not dealt with by court and there are no formal charges; usually the matter is resolved with a written or oral apology by the perpetrator to the victim.
The “slap on the wrist” approach taken by Wiltshire Police was slammed in a report into standards by HM Inspectorate of Constabularies. The report described Wiltshire Police’s over-use of community resolution orders as “unacceptable” when used to deal with paedophilia, rape and other sexual offences.
Wiltshire Police have responded to the report and a spokesman said that the force was responding to the criticism with action.
Victim and support groups are outraged by the revelation. Dr Fiona Elvines, a spokeswoman for the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, said it was: “severely disappointing to see police statistics taking precedence over public safety and survivors’ rights to justice. Restorative justice for survivors of sexual violence should be additional to, not in place of, criminal justice routes.”
Speaking on behalf of the NSPCC, Jon Brown said: “The justice system needs to be more victim focused, and not a reflection on whether the perpetrator deserved prison or not. A custodial sentence for serious sexual offences is the only way to send a clear message that society will not accept their behaviour.”