Surrey Police's backlog of child sex offences 'significant'

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Image caption Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro said the low clear-up rate was "pretty disturbing"

A force's backlog of child rape and sexual offences investigations has reached "significant" levels, according to Surrey Police's chief constable.

The "stressful and traumatic" nature of the work is a major contribution, as reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Specialist detectives and support workers have since been drafted in.

Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro said the low clear-up rate was "pretty disturbing".

During the PCC's performance meeting on Tuesday a report revealed there are 247 offences recorded around rape and sexual offences against children under the age of 16. Out of these, 184 are historical cases.

Figures show a slight decrease between 2017-18 and 2018-19 of 10 offences.

Requirements around disclosure tests were also said to have led to a delay in the number of cases being submitted to the CPS.

The report also showed the prosecution success rate had dropped from about 20% in 2017-18 to less than 4% in 2018-19.

Chief Constable Gavin Stephens said the volume of offences the team was dealing with overall had risen "quite dramatically" and that historical cases added another "layer of complexity" to how the crimes were recorded.

'Sombre reading'

He said that a drop in convictions and successful outcomes was due to the large numbers.

Failings with Surrey Police's disclosure process involving a case against former DJ Jonathan King led to an independent review last August.

The outcome of the review has still not been concluded.

Mr Stephens added: "There is no doubt there is a backlog built up in this instance because of the disclosure issues, particularly around electronic evidence."

Mr Munro said: "The report makes quite sombre reading and there are huge tragedies around every single statistic."

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