Public Prosecution Service (PPS) publishes Cases involving Sexual Offences 2020/21 statistical bulletin

Date published: 11 November 2021

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) today published its Statistical Bulletin: Cases Involving Sexual Offences 2020/21 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 Bulletin presents key statistics for the 2020/21 financial year (i.e. 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021) and includes comparisons with the 2019/20 financial year.

This is the fifth Bulletin in this series which provides a statistical overview of all sexual offences, including an analysis of cases involving rape.

Key findings

During the 2020/21 financial year:

  • The PPS received a total of 1,568 files involving a sexual offence. This was a decrease of 6.9% on 2019/20 (1,684). There was a drop of 11.3% in the number of files received involving an offence of rape, from 652 to 578.
  • Files received included a total of 1,664 suspects, 608 of whom were charged or reported for rape (a decrease of 13.9% on 2019/20) and 1,056 were in respect of other sexual offences (a decrease of 3.6%).
  • 1,766 prosecutorial decisions were issued by the PPS in respect of suspects in cases involving sexual offences. The Test for Prosecution was met in respect of 27.8% of decisions, which included 491 decisions for prosecution or diversion from the courts. At 27.8%, the percentage of decisions meeting the Test represents a small decrease from 2019/20 (28.7%).
  • Of the 1,275 no prosecution decisions issued during 2020/21, the vast majority (98.4%) did not pass the evidential test. The remaining 1.6% did not pass the public interest test.
  • Median days for the issue of indictable prosecution decisions (prosecution in the Crown Court) in cases involving sexual offences was 293 calendar days (255 days in 2019/20). Median days for summary prosecution decisions (prosecution in the Magistrates’ or Youth Courts) was 16 days (20 in 2019/20).
  • A total of 94 defendants were dealt with in the Crown Court in cases involving sexual offences. The overall conviction rate was 71.3% compared with 69.1% in 2019/20.
  • Twenty-six defendants were dealt with in the Crown Court for an offence of rape and seventeen of these were convicted of at least one offence (i.e. any offence). Eight defendants were convicted of an offence of rape.
  • A total of 147 defendants were dealt with in the Magistrates’ and Youth Courts for a sexual offence during 2020/21. The overall conviction rate was 68.0% compared with 72.5% in 2019/20.

Further information

This summary should be read in conjunction with the explanatory notes and user information provided (see pages 21 - 25 of the Statistical Bulletin). Please also refer to the supporting document to this release Sexual Offences Classification (Offence Description and Legislation).

These are ‘Official Statistics’ as defined in Section 6 of the Statistics and Registration Services Act 2007. Statisticians from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency are on loan to the PPS and are responsible for ensuring that the statistics produced comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

The information presented in this bulletin is derived from the Case Management System, the main operational system within the PPS. This is a ‘live’ system with data being input on a daily basis.

The  Statistical Bulletin: Cases Involving Sexual Offences 2020/21 may be viewed or downloaded on the PPS website. Any member of the public may comment on the report by contacting PPS as follows:

Statistics and Research
Policy and Information Unit
Public Prosecution Service
Belfast Chambers
93 Chichester Street
Belfast BT1 3JR
Tel: 02890 897100

Deaf / hard of hearing (SMS):             07795 675528



Media Enquiries please contact PPS Communications at:

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