Cambridgeshire police hit back at criticism over rapists and paedophiles receiving cautions
CAMBRIDGESHIRE police force has hit back at accusations that paedophiles and rapists around the county are being let off with cautions. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that between April 2008 and March 2009 the force issued four
CAMBRIDGESHIRE police force has hit back at accusations that paedophiles and rapists around the county are being let off with cautions.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that between April 2008 and March 2009 the force issued two cautions for rape of a child aged under 13.
In the same period 18 cautions were issued for sexual assault on a person aged 13 and over and there were seven cautions for sexual assault on a child under 13.
Cambridgeshire Police issued three cautions for sexual activity involving a child under 16, five cautions for cruelty or neglect of children, four cautions for possession of firearms with intent and 26 cautions for possession of an article with a blade or point.
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Deputy Chief Constable, John Feavyour said: "Of course the statistics look shocking - because they are bare figures being viewed in isolation.
"What they don't tell anyone, and what we have to be very careful about when going into any detail, is the circumstances behind many of the sexual offences in particular.
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"They involve victims and offenders who are both under the legal age for sexual activity. For example, a girl under 16 cannot legally give consent for sexual intercourse. That means that if two 15-year-olds have sex by mutual consent, there is an offence of rape.
"All of these sorts of facts are carefully considered by police and prosecutors in consultation with the victim and parents or guardians.
"Clearly, no-one wants to impose the potential trauma of a court appearance on young people who will probably never offend in the same way again, and have already learned their lesson.
"The same considerations also apply to other types of offences involving adults. Have they offended before, are they likely to do so again - and how serious is the offence? "What is not always realised is that offences have to be categorised under certain headings for the purpose of recording statistics.
"So while someone may be accused of assault, perhaps on a police officer, it may be relatively minor, or the victim may not be willing to make a complaint - and that is when a caution is often used. There is also a large element of commonsense involved.
"But we are not being soft on criminals. Those who are so quick to criticise the police need to ask more questions first rather than using bare statistics to beat the service with.
"And let us, once and for all, dispel the myth that issuing a caution is tantamount to letting people go with a ticking off. It is a complex, strict and lengthy process which involves an admission of guilt and goes on an individual's record.
"We will continue to use them where they are appropriate - both for the sake of the victim and the offender, and, in particular, where they are young people who are just beginning to learn that life holds some hard lessons.