The number of cases of sexual offences being sent to prosecutors in Northern Ireland have increased by more than 23%, new figures reveal.
Statistics published by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) show a total of 1,512 files relating to sexual offences were sent during the 2017/18 financial year- a notable increase of 23.1% on the previous year.
A major debate was sparked about how the criminal justice system handles serious sexual offences following the trial of former Ulster Rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.
Mr Jackson was acquitted charges of rape and sexual assault while Mr Olding was acquitted of rape.
Stephen Herron, director of public prosecutions, said: “There has been an intense level of public debate around the Criminal Justice System’s handling of serious sexual offences in a period only partly covered by this Statistical Bulletin.
“The PPS welcomes that debate and we also welcome the opportunity to make an active contribution to Sir John Gillen’s independent review which was established in April 2018 to consider a range of issues around how justice is delivered in these challenging cases.
“I would like to assure the public that we are fully committed to prosecuting allegations of serious sexual offending, where there is the evidence to do so, and we continue to urge victims to have the confidence to come forward and report their concerns and experiences to the police.”
In total, 42,395 files were received and 50,231 decisions were issued by the PPS between April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.