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Cautions for sex attackers increase; EXCLUSIVE Call for scrutiny as new figures revealed.

Byline: BY LIAM MURPHY Daily Post Staff

MORE than 100 cautions have been handed out by police in Cheshire and Merseyside for sex offences - including 30 for sexual assaults - in the last two years.

The shocking figures were revealed after a Freedom of Information request made by the Daily Post.

The number of cautions given by Cheshire Police to offenders increased from 2006/7 when 36 were given to offenders to 42 in 2007/8 and from 13 to 27 in Merseyside over the same period.

According to the information supplied by Cheshire Police, over the last two years six people have been cautioned for sexual assault on boys or girls under 13 years of age, and 24 for sexual assaults on males and females over 13. In the same two-year period, at least 22 people were given cautions by the force for offences involving exposure and voyeurism.

Last night, Cllr Paul Clein, a leading member of Merseyside Police Authority, said the revelations were not likely to improve public confidence in the police and he would be raising the matter.

In Merseyside, in 2007/8, nine people were cautioned for "common prostitute loitering or kerb crawling", nine for "sexual activity in a public lavatory" and six for "exposure or voyeurism".

Three were cautioned for "other" offences which the force did not disclose.

According to Merseyside Police: "People who receive a caution for a sexual offence are not 'let off ', as a caution still attracts a criminal record and the possibility of having placed on them a requirement to notify certain personal details to the police.

"This process is commonly known as 'registration' and often referred to loosely as a 'sex offenders' register'."

Cllr Clein said: "I would suggest cautioning for sexual offences will not improve the confidence of the public in the way police and the police authority are working.

"This is a matter I will be pursuing with the police authority."

DCI Paul Moore, from Cheshire Police, said: "It is difficult to be prescriptive in relation to the general cautioning of offenders, as each case is assessed on its merits."

He said for a caution to be used there must be evidence of the offender's guilt, sufficient to give a realistic prospect of conviction, and there must be "clear and reliable evidence of a voluntary admission that relates to all elements of the alleged offence" - that the offender must admit the offence.

He said: "The offender must understand the significance of a caution and give informed consent to being cautioned.

"The decision that a case meets the criteria for a caution has to made by an officer of inspector rank or above. In deciding on the suitability, the above factors have to be met and consideration should be given to whether a simple caution is appropriate to the offence and the offender."

He also said the judgment must be made as to whether a caution is likely to be effective in the circumstances - although they can still be subject to sex offender registration - and take into account the seriousness of the offence and the views of the victim.

What a police caution means to an offender

ACCORDING to the Police National Legal Database website, which is managed by the Association of Chief Police Officers, a caution is a formal warning that is given to an adult who has admitted the offence.

If the person refuses the caution, then they will normally be prosecuted through the normal channels.

Although it is not technically classed as a conviction, it can be taken into consideration by the courts if the person is convicted of a further offence.

Roll call of shame in Merseyside and Cheshire

CHESHIRE Police cautions for sex offences, 2007/2008

Exposure and voyeurism (10) Indecent assault on a female (1)

Sexual activity involving a child under 13 (2)

Sexual activity involving a child under 16 (17)

Sexual assault on a female aged 13 or over (8)

Sexual assault on a female child under 13 (1)

Sexual assault on a male aged 13 and over (1)

Sexual assault on a male child under 13 (2) Sum: 42

Merseyside Police cautions for sex offences 2007/2008

Common prostitute loitering or Kerb crawling (9)

Exposure or Voyeurism (6)

Sexual activity in a public lavatory (9)

Other (not disclosed by police) (3)

Sum: 27

Cheshire Police cautions for sex offences 2006/2007

Abuse of trust (3)

Exposure and voyeurism (12)

Sexual activity involving a child under 16 (2)

Sexual assault on a female aged 13 or over (13)

Sexual assault on a female child under 13(2)

Sexual assault on a male aged 13 and over (2)

Sexual assault on a male child under 13 (1)

Sexual grooming (1)

Sum: 36

liammurphy@dailypost.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

In Merseyside, in 2007/8, nine people were cautioned for 'common prostitute loitering or kerb crawling' Picture: LEWIS WHYLD; Cllr Paul Clein
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 3, 2009
Words:816
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