The conviction rate for sex crimes has dropped by 10 per cent in a year, with thousands more prosecutions failing to produce significantly more guilty verdicts, official figures show.
Despite more than 5,000 extra prosecutions in the year to June compared with the previous year, only 77 more sex offenders were convicted, leading to accusations that criminals are “getting away with it”.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures showed a fall in the conviction rate for sex offences to 58 per cent, compared with 68 per cent in the year ending June 2013.
Charity Victim Support said victims of sex crimes can feel devastated if their abuser is not convicted and called for action to address the problem.
Labour said more offenders were getting away with their crimes and blamed Government cuts in the number of police officers and specialist prosecutors for a failure to deal with complex sex crimes.
The figures show there were 34,161 sex offence prosecutions in the year ending June 2014, with 19,685 resulting in a conviction.
But a similar number of sex offenders – 19,608 – were convicted in the year ending June 2013, despite only 28,809 prosecutions, more than 5,000 fewer.
In contrast, the conviction rate for every other serious crime apart from robbery increased or remained the same.
The release of the figures in the MoJ’s quarterly criminal justice statistics comes as the prosecution and conviction of sexual offenders remains high on the political agenda after a string of high-profile cases.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the Government should establish national standards on the prosecution of sex crimes. “These figures show the Government is failing to get justice for victims of sexual attacks and abuse,” she added.
Adam Pemberton, of Victim Support, said: “We know from supporting many thousands of victims of sexual offences that after getting up the courage to come forward to testify, they can feel devastated if their case ends without a guilty verdict.”