LABOUR’S shocking record of soft justice was exposed last night when it emerged that 229 perverts guilty of sickening sexual offences against children have been let off with cautions since 2004.
Official figures showed that more than half of offenders escape going to prison.
Almost a third of those who rape, sexually assault or pimp out children under 13 get just a caution.
Another quarter get just a community or a suspended sentence.
The revelation will worry parents and last night sparked fury from the Opposition and child protection groups.
Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve said: “Ministers regularly make loud announcements about cracking down on paedophiles.
“Yet these figures show that, with 30 per cent getting off with a slap on the wrist, law enforcement is at its most lax in protecting the most vulnerable.” Jo Duncombe, a former senior probation officer who now attempts to treat some of Britain’s worst sex offenders, said that the revelation was appalling.
She said: “If someone thinks they are going to get a caution, they are more likely to offend. And if they are only cautioned, they will only get very loose supervision.”
Ms Duncombe blamed Ministers for giving courts discretion not to send child abusers to jail automatically when they passed the Sexual Offences Act in 2003.
She also blamed judges for choosing soft sentences.
Offences for which only cautions were issued include rape of a child under 13, sexual assault of a child under 13, causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, sexual activity with a child under 13, sexual activity with a child family member under 13 and controlling a child prostitute under 13 or a child under 13 involved in pornography.