By RAYMOND BROWN
Ten offenders have been given a ‘slap on the wrist’ by Cambridgeshire police over sex crimes involving children, as tough new rules are brought in over cautions for serious offences.
New data has also revealed children as young as 10 have been arrested on suspicion of rape.
A total of 52 under 16 year- olds have been arrested over alleged rape since 2009 and of those, 36 saw no further action taken, including two 11-year-old boys and a boy aged 10.
A dozen were charged including two aged 13, two aged 14 and 10 aged 15 – the rest were bailed.
Police Minister Damian Green has told the News the Government is “tightening up the rules” on cautions for serious offences.
The police data revealed three cautions for causing or inciting a female child to engage in sexual activity were issued. Three cautions were handed out for sexual activity with a female child and two involving a boy.
Two cautions were issued for sexual assault on a child in the last two years and two for creating indecent images of children.
Mr Green said: “We have already changed the rules on simple cautions so they can’t be used for persistent repeat offenders or for very serious offences.”
“There have been examples of, say, a 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl where you may not want to have a criminal record for that.”
“Any sex with anyone under 16 is rape so there are very small numbers of examples for that but obviously in general, any kind of hugely serious offence like that shouldn’t result in a caution, and we are tightening up the rules on that.”
Police have now been banned from handing out cautions to serial offenders after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling introduced new legislation on February 5. In future, a ‘slap on the wrist’ will be banned except in exceptional circumstances.
A police spokeswoman said the “decision to caution is not made lightly” and a raft of facts are taken into account.
She added: “It should also be noted that a caution is not a soft option. It has to be accepted by the alleged offender, is a matter of permanent record and can result in the offender being placed on the Sex Offenders Register.”
“The decision to caution is also made or approved by the Crown Prosecution Service in sexual offence cases of a serious nature. If young people are involved, the Youth Offending Service become involved and, if appropriate, the cautions are conditional to the young people taking part in a suitable programme with support services.”