Caution - sex fiends ARE on the loose

OVER 100 self-confessed rapists, paedophiles and 'kerb crawlers' have been let off with a caution in the Somerset area in less than a year

OVER 100 self-confessed rapists, paedophiles and 'kerb crawlers' have been let off with a caution in the Somerset area in less than a year.The shocking figures, revealed through a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, show that in each case between July 2006 and April this year, the person arrested admitted the offence but never appeared in court.Avon Vale Victim Support, which covers North Somerset, says victims are often 'deeply disappointed' to think attackers are 'getting away with it'.Out of the 122 sex offence cases that never made it to court, there was one rape case, three occasions where someone said they had sexually assaulted a girl under 13, two cases where someone aged over 18 admitted having sex with a girl aged 13-15, nine cases of indecent exposure and 85 cases of 'kerb crawling' where people drive around looking for prostitutes.A spokesman for Somerset Victim Support said: "Victims of rape and sexual assault are in a state of considerable distress, shock and fear after a serious incident and will experience other emotions such as guilt or embarrassment, believing they were somehow to blame. "It is not always easy to report such crimes or agree to continue with a prosecution after, as victims often have an understandable fear of going to court, facing their attacker and not being believed by the court. "Low conviction rates mean victims are deeply disappointed if they perceive their attacker as 'getting away with it'. "These issues are being addressed by Avon and Somerset police, in partnership with a number of other agencies, through the development of a dedicated sexual assault response team and the new Sexual Assault and Rape Centre in Bristol, which is due to open next year."An Avon and Somerset police spokesman says age and a victim's state-of-mind are considered when deciding whether or not to take cases to court.He said: "The victim could be too traumatised to proceed with criminal action or the victim or the offender may have a mental illness."As another example, if it is a case of one teenager committing an offence on another teenager, it may be felt that it is best not to go through the courts and it may be best, in the long run, for both parties, if a caution is issued."It is not correct to say that people are 'let off' with a caution as this still attracts a criminal record."Cautions for sexual offences are issued in accordance with national guidance and are issued only after careful consideration has been given to the full circumstances."There would need to be evidence and clear admission of guilt, while age, welfare, mental well-being and the views of the victim would be taken into account."Cautions do trigger a requirement to comply with the sex offenders' register."Victims of rape and sexual assault can call Victim Support on weekdays between 8am-8pm on 08454 566099 for confidential support, advice and information.

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