MORE than 100 rapists, sex offenders and violent criminals in Kirklees have been let off with a slap on the wrist in the last five years.
An Examiner investigation has revealed that between 2005 and 2009 113 offenders were given police cautions for rape, sexual assault, sexual activity involving a child under 13, wounding and grievous bodily harm.
Six of those were people who admitted rape.
Michael Downes, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation which represents 6,000 officers in the force, said it was a major concern that a rapist could get a caution.
He said: “The use of cautions is appropriate in certain circumstances and each case needs to be looked at on its individual merits.
“However, my instinctive thoughts in relation to a person being cautioned for rape are that it’s a grave concern.
“I find it difficult to imagine any circumstances where that is an appropriate course of action.”
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show that 28 people were cautioned for wounding in the last five years. At its most serious, an offence of wounding with intent carries a life prison term.
Twenty-three offences of sexual assault of a woman and three of sexual assault of a man were dealt with by way of a caution.
Four cases of sexual activity involving a child under 13 ended with cautions.
Fifty people got cautions for GBH without intent.
In addition, more than 1,000 people who committed common assault between 2005 and 2009 were given cautions.
A police caution is given to an offender as an alternative to taking them to court, but means they have a conviction for the offence in question.
Their DNA and fingerprints are taken.
Cautions can only be handed out where the offender admits the offence.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The decision relies on a wide range of factors including the wishes of the victim – including their reluctance in supporting a prosecution – the antecedents of the offender, and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances.
“Generally the more minor offences are dealt with in such ways, hence the higher rate of common assaults. The more serious offences can also attract a caution dependent on the circumstances, but are fewer in number.”
He said decisions to use cautions in cases of offences against children were not taken lightly.
“Cases where a caution is appropriate could include the commission of sexual offences between consenting young people, typically in a teenage relationship where one or both have not yet achieved the age of consent,” he said.
“The consequence of a conviction in these circumstances is likely to be disproportionate to the offence and as such a caution provides an appropriate means of resolving the situation.”
But a spokeswoman for Victim Support said police should be careful about the use of cautions.
She said: “If someone is arrested a victim is likely to feel disappointed if a decision is made not to prosecute the person who committed the crime.
“If victims feel their experience is being dismissed by the agencies that are meant to deal with the situation that risks adding insult to injury.
“Police need to be consistent with their decisions on whether or not to hand out a caution, justify their decisions and communicate clearly with the victim to explain them.
“It’s vital that such victims are referred to Victim Support so that we can support them.”