12/04/2012 - 16:06
Sexual offences: it’s all in the counting rules
"The NSPCC last week called for action to drastically reduce the number of sexual assaults on children (their split infinitive) after new figures revealed there were more than 400 offences reported to police every week last year (2010-11) with fewer than one in ten resulting in a conviction.
The report led to predictable stories – “Child sex attack every 20 minutes” in the Daily Mail, and a claim in The Sun by campaigner Sara Payne that Britain is “overrun with paedophiles [sic]". A column in The People by Carole Malone asserted that “Britain is now in the grip of a paedophile [sic] epidemic with 23,097 children abused in England and Wales last year.”
"Whether it was wise to change the rules in 2003 is open to question. Perhaps it’s right that any sexual contact with under-13s should be deemed criminal behaviour but it casts the net so wide that it opens the statistics to the abuse of campaigners and well-meaning but poorly-informed [sic] journalists."