Police solving lowest proportion of crimes amid record numbers of sex offences

Police are solving the lowest proportion of crimes ever, official figures show, as sex offences have hit a record high.

Just six per cent of all crimes resulted in a charge in the year to September 2021, equivalent to just one in 17 offences being solved, according to the Home Office figures.

That represents a fall from 7.3 per cent in the previous year and is more than half the charging rate of 14 per cent in 2014/15.

At the same time, the number of sex offences have reached the highest on record, at 170,973, a rise of 12 per cent on 2020. 

Rape – which comprised 37 per cent of these offences – was also at a historic high at 63,136, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Just 1.3 per cent of rapes resulted in a charge

The ONS cautioned that the increase could be put down to factors including the “impact of high-profile cases and campaigns on victims’ willingness to report incidents”.

The two quarters up to September 2021 following the murder of Sarah Everard were the highest and second highest three-monthly periods for sex offences.

However, the Home Office data also revealed that the proportion of sex offences and rapes being solved had fallen back to its record low. Just 1.3 per cent of rapes resulted in a charge, and only 2.9 per cent of sexual offences.

Victims’ groups have blamed the low convictions rates for rape on court delays of two or more years, intrusive and sometimes aggressive questioning by police and prosecutors, and the trauma of reliving their attack in a court in the presence of the alleged offender.

Rise in online crimes and domestic abuse

The rise in sexual offences bucks the trend of most other crimes which saw a fall during the year to September 2021, when the country was in lockdown or facing restrictions on travel and gatherings.

Online crimes did increase, with fraud up by 36 per cent to 5.1 million and computer misuse up by 89 per cent to 1.87 million, driven by a 161 per cent rise in hacking.

Domestic abuse was also up by five per cent to 872,911, including nearly 695,000 offences of violence flagged as domestic abuse.

While murders were down by one per cent to 666, the proportion involving killing with a knife was up from 256 to 276 offences.

Other key points from the ONS data showed knife crime overall down by 10 per cent, robbery down 18 per cent, burglary down 21 per cent, car crime down 14 per cent, gun offences down nine per cent.

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