Sex offenders avoiding punishment in South Yorkshire by saying sorry

Some sex offenders in South Yorkshire have avoided punishment and criminal records for saying sorry to their victims, it has emerged.

Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 10:52 am

Over the past two years 78 sex offences investigated by South Yorkshire Police have been dealt with by ‘Community Resolutions’ instead of at court.

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Community Resolutions can be offered when offenders accepts responsibility for their criminality and, in most cases, where the victim has agreed that they do not want more formal action taken.

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Sammy Woodhouse was abused and raped as a child in Rotherham

The most common offences dealt with this way include criminal damage, low-value thefts, minor non-injury assaults and public order offences.

But in South Yorkshire sex offenders have also avoided prosecution.

Those offered Community Resolutions may be referred to local support agencies, they can be given advice about their behaviour, they be asked to apologise or send a letter of apology to their victim or make some form of reparation such as repairing or paying for any damage or harm done.

Meetings with victims can also be organised as part of the process.

Sammy Woodhouse, from Rotherham, a survivor of child grooming, sexual exploitation and rape, said: “I am absolutely furious about this. I had no idea it was happening.”

Some police forces have used Community Resolutions in rape cases over the last two years, but South Yorkshire Police insists it is not one of them

The force said: “When considering a Community Resolution as a possible outcome for sexual offences we take into account several factors. This includes but is not limited to the nature of the offence and the victim’s wishes.

“We treat all reports of sexual assaults seriously, but on occasion Community Resolution is an opportunity to divert offenders away from the criminal justice system and provide an effective, efficient and proportionate resolution. There is also growing evidence that early intervention and diversion can be highly effective at preventing reoffending and increasing victim satisfaction.

“The Community Resolution process is sometimes an appropriate outcome for cases involving child perpetrators, people with specific needs or learning difficulties or consensual relationships between teenagers. In many cases, there is a specific desire by the victims and their family for the perpetrator not to be put through the criminal justice system.

“We regularly scrutinise and evaluate our performance, and our use of out of court disposals are routinely monitored for appropriateness and suitability to ensure we are providing the best outcomes for those affected by crime. We conduct regular internal assessments and we have a quarterly independent review panel which includes representatives from victim charities, magistrates and CPS to ensure we are doing everything we can to support victims and that our use of out of court disposals is lawful and legitimate.

“Protecting vulnerable people remains a force priority and we remain committed to bringing perpetrators of sexual offences to justice.”

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “It is an absolute disgrace that under this ­government horrific crimes are going without punishment.”

According to Home Office figures, nationally since 2020, seven rape cases, 414 sexual assaults, 23 grooming cases and 166 incidents of exposure or voyeurism were dealt with by Community Resolutions.