A request by the Worcester News made under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that West Mercia police released 93 people who admitted sexual offences — including eight rapists — without charge in the past five years.
Junior reporter Kate Yates obtained the figures, which show that the offenders did not go to court and escaped with a caution between April 2001 and March 2006.
The 93 cases included 41 counts of indecent assault, six of unlawful sexual intercourse, 17 of sexual assault, nine for sexual activity — including one case involving a child — one of gross indecency with a child and 11 for other sexual offences.
Yates, who last week took her NCTJ National Certificate Examination, read about sexual offenders escaping courts in other areas in a national newspaper story and wanted to see if it was happening in Worcestershire. She initially asked the force if they had such figures but was told she had to submit an FoI request.
"It is one of the first requests I have made, so I didn't really know what to expect. I was quite surprised by the figures — but when the police explained that many people don't want cases to go to court it made more sense."
A spokeswoman for West Mercia police told the paper that cautions were often given to first-time offenders who admitted their guilt and that cases often didn't reach court because of victims'
reluctance to testify.
She said anyone who received such a caution was placed on the Sexual Offenders' Register for up to two years, or one year if they were under 17.
News editor Stephanie Preece said the paper often submitted requests to the police, health service and local government, but this was one of the most remarkable.
"It's a shocking number when you consider the nature of the crimes. There are certainly stories we do like this one that would not be possible without the act," said Preece.
"A person can accept a caution — and therefore admit their guilt — but their name remains a secret. These people, who are guilty of rape or abusing children, can get on with their everyday lives without their relatives, neighbours and colleagues knowing their guilty secret."