Conviction rates for sex offences cases in Northamptonshire are considerably lower than for any other category of offence, according to new figures.
Analysis of data produced by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over the first quarter of this year reveals that 32.8 per cent of defendants in Northamptonshire have been acquitted in sex offence cases prosecuted by CPS East Midlands.
The highest conviction rates in Northamptonshire have come in cases involving murder (100 per cent), theft and handling (95%) and drugs offences (91.7%).
The figures have been compiled by Chris Saltrese Solicitors.
Mr Saltrese specialises in defending contested sexual offence allegations and believes the high number of acquittals is down to the strength of evidence being brought by the CPS.
He said: “The conviction rate in Northamptonshire sex offence cases is abnormally low because the CPS are bringing charges on weak evidence, particularly in historic cases.
“There is no requirement for corroboration or independent witnesses – the complainant’s account is enough for a prosecution and conviction.”
Mr Alstrese feels that weak cases are being 'nodded forward' for prosecution but he believes that juries are often more 'savvy' than police and lawyers give them credit for.
"When they are presented with evidence, which has not been subjected to the slightest scrutiny, they acquit,” he added.
The solicitor also had a message for the new director of public prosecutions, Max Hill.
“The CPS must not become involved in a crusade to increase conviction rates by prosecuting any cases on weak evidence,” he said. “Reinstate the proper rules of evidence.”
Offences against the person, such as assault and affray, also had a high acquittal rate, the figures reveal.
Between January and March, 289 out of 909 people charged with an offence against a person were acquitted - nearly a quarter.
Five out of 16 robbery cases did not end in a conviction either.