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In the United Kingdom, Community Resolution Orders give the police the powers to deal with minor offences in which the offender pleads guilty and agrees to reparations, without using the court systems to get a formal conviction.

The Daily Mirror argues that this has been widely abused to let numerous sex offenders off with no punishment:

"police forces let off 870 sex offenders after they say sorry"

They give examples of serious crimes being dismissed this way:

Officers in Durham, Cheshire and Nottinghamshire all used it for the rape of girls under 13.

Merseyside cops dealt with the rape of a girl under 16 this way.

Police in Norfolk did likewise over the rape of a young boy, and Derbyshire and Devon & Cornwall also used community resolutions in rape offences.

Were there 870 (or numerically similar) such cases where a sex offender was merely asked to apologise? Did any of the cases include the rape of children?

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    There are several allegations here that don't match the article, which is talking about Community Resolutions. No-one is talking about convicted criminals, active charges, or the like. Let's edit the question to match the claim.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 12 at 20:38
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    I wonder if these will turn out to be teenagers having sex with each other, which is legally rape, but rather different from the image that "child rape" generally brings to mind.
    – IMSoP
    Jun 13 at 9:07
  • @IMSoP unless specifically reported as such, or there's more than 2 (?) years difference, it wouldn't be a rape case.
    – tuskiomi
    Jun 13 at 14:19
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    @tuskiomi According to the law, maybe; but tabloids aren't interested in careful definitions, they're interested in shocking headlines. Buried in the middle of the article, it quotes a police spokesperson saying: “They may be typically applied where schoolchildren share inappropriate images or in cases of sex between underage children. We have made it clear out-of-court disposals are not to be used in serious cases.” Someone could answer definitively whether that guideline was followed by sourcing more details of the cases involved, but the Mirror doesn't present much evidence that it wasn't.
    – IMSoP
    Jun 13 at 14:30

1 Answer 1

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There is no reason to doubt these figures; they are consistent with previous reports such as this one from 2019 relating to 2014-2018.

I would note that a community resolution is not necessarily an apology.

West Yorkshire Police explain:

Examples of a Community resolution could include a simple apology, an offer of compensation or a promise to clear up any graffiti or criminal damage.

In terms of the specific claims:

  • rape of a girl under 13 is strict liability, so for example if two 12 year olds had sex, then this would be a complete offence, and no defence such as "she consented to sex" is allowed.
  • rape of a girl under 16 is not a specific offence - rape is either strict liability under 13, or without consent if aged 13+ (there are separate offences of sexual activity with a child which carry similar penalties, but these would not be recorded as rape). As such, rape of a 15 year old is not different to rape of a 25 year old, so it's not particularly clear why they are highlighting the age of the victim.
  • it is not clear what is meant by 'rape of a young boy'

A key purpose of the community resolution is to 'solve' the crime. The police record the resolution on their statistics, and it is case closed. The South Yorkshire police note that this is used 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.

This West Midlands Police document gives more context. It describes a 12 year old girl texting her 14 year old boyfriend telling him to bring condoms, and having sex, on one occasion. Both sets of parents agreed criminalization was not appropriate, and the CR was used. The resolution was reviewed, because the case was deemed to be a sensitive one, and this was confirmed as an appropriate resolution.

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    Might be temporary, but the South Yorkshire link is timing out for me.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 14 at 3:33
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    Could you please add some clarification/references about what you mean by "strict liability" and "no defence"? (I am no expert, but I thought "strict liability" meant your intentions/mens rea were irrelevant, yet the laws you link talk about intentionally touching/penetrating/causing, so I am left confused.)
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 14 at 3:40
  • A quick Google search for "strict liability" gives (at least for me) the following snippet at the top "In criminal law, possession crimes and statutory rape are both examples of strict liability offenses." This also appears in Wikipedia and everywhere else.....
    – thelawnet
    Jun 14 at 3:49
  • Strict liability in this case means you are responsible for the age of your sexual partner, even if the partner lied to you about it. Jun 15 at 5:35

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