Date published: 11 October 2018


The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) today published its Statistical Bulletin: Cases Involving Sexual Offences 2017/18 which presents key statistics in relation to the prosecution of sexual offences, including caseloads and prosecutorial decisions. It also includes statistics on the outcomes of prosecutions at court involving these offences.

The statistics relate to the 2017/18 financial year (i.e. 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018) and includes comparisons with the equivalent period of the 2016/17 financial year.

Key findings

During the 2017/18 financial year:

  • The PPS received a total of 1,587 files involving a sexual offence. This was an increase of 21.0% on 2016/17 (1,312). There was a rise of 34.2% in the number of files received involving a rape offence, from 395 to 530. 
  • Files received included a total of 1,700 suspects, 567 of whom were charged or reported for rape (an increase of 36.6% on 2016/17) and 1,133 for other sexual offences (an increase of 15.1%). 
  • A total of 1,478 information requests were submitted to police during 2017/18 in relation to cases involving a sexual offence, a increase of 11.1% on 2016/17 (1,330).
  • 1,652 prosecutorial decisions were issued by the PPS in respect of suspects in cases involving sexual offences. The evidential Test for Prosecution was met for at least one offence (i.e. any offence) in 26.6% of decisions, which included 351 decisions for prosecution and 32 for diversion from the courts. At 26.6%, the percentage of decisions meeting the Test represents a reduction on 2016/17 (40.2%).
  • Of the 1,212 decisions for no prosecution, the vast majority (97.0%) did not pass the evidential test. The remaining 3.0% did not pass the public interest test. 
  • Indictable prosecution decisions (prosecution in the Crown Court) in cases involving sexual offences were issued in an average of 285 calendar days (229 days in 2016/17). Summary prosecution decisions (prosecution in the Magistrates’ or Youth Courts) required an average of 87 days (70 in 2016/17). 
  • 224 defendants were dealt with in the Crown Court in cases involving sexual offences. The overall conviction rate was 63.8% compared with 73.8% in 2016/17.
  • Sixty defendants were dealt with in the Crown Court for an offence of rape and 45.0% of these were convicted of at least one offence (i.e. any offence). Approximately one in six defendants (15.0%) were convicted of an offence of rape. 
  • A total of 141 defendants were dealt with in the Magistrates’ and Youth Courts. Nearly two-thirds (65.2%) of defendants were convicted of at least one offence (i.e. of any offence) which represents an increase on 2016/17 (62.8%).

The full bulletin may be viewed or downloaded here: https://www.ppsni.gov.uk/Thematic-Statistical-Bulletins-7882.html.

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