England and Wales: Sex offender sentences hit record levels


England and Wales
First published: 13 August 2015

Average sentence increased by 4.5 months and number of convictions reaches 10 year high.


Prison sentences given to sex offenders have reached record levels, statistics released today (13 August 2015) show.

Sex offenders are now sentenced on average to more than 5 years in prison – an increase of 4.5 months in the past year alone.

A total of 6,402 sex offenders were convicted in the latest year, an increase of 10% on the previous 12 months. That means that as well as sentences being longer, the number of offenders convicted was the highest it has been in a decade.

Justice Minister Andrew Selous said:

These figures show sex offenders are receiving harsher punishment than ever before for their appalling crimes.

Longer sentences will be welcomed by victims, who deserve to know that those who commit these sickening acts are properly held to account.

Today’s statistics also show that in all offence categories, serious offenders are more likely to go straight to prison than at any point in the last 10 years. 27% of people convicted of an indictable offence received an immediate custodial sentence, up from 24% in the 12 months ending March 2010.

The average custodial sentence length for all indictable offences has increased to 18.7 months in March 2015, up from 16.5 months in the 12 months ending March 2010.

The proportion of offenders sentenced to a community sentence for an indictable offence has decreased since the 12 months ending March 2009, from 33% to 20% in the latest year.

In the latest year, there was also a 21% drop in the use of out-of-court disposals, which include cautions, Penalty Notices for Disorder, and cannabis and khat warnings.

Notes to editors:

  1. View Criminal Justice System Statistics Quarterly.
  2. The average custodial sentence length for sexual offences in the 12 months ending March 2015 was 63.0 months. This has risen by 4.5 months since the previous year.
  3. The average custodial sentence length for sex offences is at the highest level over the period for which figures are readily available (since 2000).
  4. The average custodial sentence length for all crimes has risen by 0.6 months in the same period to 15.9 months.
  5. For further information please call the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536. Follow us @MoJpress.