Cautions for child sex offences
People in a position of trust, such as teachers, doctors and carers, are being let off with cautions for child sex offences, fresh data has shown.
A total of nine offenders in the year to September 2012 were cautioned for abuse of a position of trust by causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, according to a written answer to George Howarth, Labour MP for Knowsley, in Merseyside.
The data shows that two care workers were cautioned for sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder in the same period, while four offenders in a position of trust were cautioned for sexual activity with a child.
Cautions have been issued for a wide range of sexual offences in the data, including eight rapes, 15 rapes of a child under 13 and 254 cases of sexual activity with a child.
Elsewhere, the data revealed that one offender in a position of trust was cautioned for causing a child to watch a sexual act.
A total of 12 offenders were cautioned for causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent, while 34 were cautioned for causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.
Some 116 offenders were cautioned for causing or inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity, while 51 people were cautioned for causing or inciting prostitution for gain.
The figures showed 10 offenders were cautioned for meeting a child following sexual grooming, while 65 were cautioned for sexual assault of a child under 13.
Mr Howarth said: "Whilst there are some examples where it would clearly be appropriate for a caution to be issued, others are clearly questionable. Of particular concern are those that involve people in positions of trust committing sex offences, of one kind or another, against children and rape offences.
"I acknowledge that the Ministry of Justice has launched a review into the use of cautions, focused on the use of cautions for serious offences and persistent offenders, but this matter needs to dealt with urgently to reassure the public that those who commit these offences are subjected to appropriate severe action. In many of these cases, a caution would not meet that test."