The shortest prison sentences given to convicted rapists by judges in England and Wales last year revealed

Several rapists of children and adult women walked free from prison in 2020, NationalWorld’s analysis reveals

Sentencing guidelines says four years in prison should be the starting point for judges deciding on punishments - so why are dozens walking away with less?

Almost two dozen rapists got away with less than four years in prison last year, official statistics show.

It comes after charity the Fawcett Society called for an “urgent investigation” into why rapists of men and boys got tougher sentences than those who target women and girls last year.

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The maximum sentence in law for rape is life imprisonment, while guidelines from the Sentencing Council for England and Wales set out a range of between four and 19 years behind bars, depending on the severity of the offence.

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Courts must follow the guidelines unless it is not in the interest of justice to do so.

But despite this, analysis of Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures by NationalWorld has revealed that 23 adult rapists were sentenced to less than four years in prison across England and Wales in 2020.

Most prisoners will only serve half of their sentence before being released on licence. New rules mean serious sex offenders sentenced to at least seven years will serve at least two-thirds of their prison time.

Eighteen offenders also escaped prison altogether, with penalties ranging from community orders to a suspended sentence and even an absolute discharge – meaning the case is closed with no punishment deemed necessary.

The cases overwhelmingly involved female victims, including several children aged under 13.

The Sentencing Council’s guidelines say judges can consider whether any mitigating factors warrant a sentence reduction.

These could include guilty pleas, cooperating with the prosecution, previously having a good character, and their age, lack of maturity, or mental disorders and learning disabilities.

Below we have listed everything we know about the adult rapists – and their victims – given non-custodial punishments in 2020, and the shortest prison sentences handed out.

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Who escaped without time in prison?

A white male aged 18 to 20 was given a community sentence at a magistrates court in Dorset for raping a girl aged under 13 – despite rape being an indictable only offence that should be tried in Crown Court. The sentence was a referral order.

In London, a white male aged 21 to 24 was given a community order for raping a girl aged under 13. Community orders could consist of a curfew, supervision, community service or medical treatment.

A white male aged 18 to 20 was given a suspended sentence in North Wales after raping a girl aged under 13.

In South Wales, a man aged 70 or over of unknown ethnicity was given an absolute discharge for raping a woman aged 16 or over. That means they were convicted but no punishment was deemed necessary, or that to impose one would be inappropriate.

A man aged 18 to 20 of unknown ethnicity was given a conditional discharge by a magistrates court in West Mercia after raping a girl aged under 13. This requires a defendant to not commit a further offence for a specified period of up to three years. If they do, they can be recalled and punished more severely.

Again in West Mercia, a white man aged 21 to 24 was given a community order for raping a girl aged under 13.

A further 12 offenders had their sentence recorded as ‘otherwise dealt with’. According to the MoJ, this could include a number of court orders that fall outside of the major sentencing categories, such as compensation orders, hospital orders, or confiscation orders. Among the victims were four adult women, five girls aged 13 to 15, two girls aged under 13, and one boy aged under 13.

What were the shortest prison sentences?

A white man aged between 21 and 24 was sentenced in Greater Manchester to 20 months for raping a girl aged between 13 and 15.

A white man aged between 18 and 20 got 20 months in a young offender institute for raping a girl aged under 13 after being sentenced in Northumbria.

A man of unknown ethnicity aged 21 to 24 was sentenced to 24 months in London for raping a woman aged 16 or over.

A white male aged 18 to 20 in South Wales received a 24-month sentence in a young offender institute for raping a woman aged 16 or over.

In the West Midlands, a male of unknown ethnicity aged 18 to 20 was given 30 months in a young offender institute for raping a girl aged under 13.

A white male aged 30 to 39 was sentenced in Manchester to 32 months for raping a woman aged 16 or over.

A white man aged 40 to 49 was given 32 months by a judge in South Wales for raping a woman aged 16 or over.

In Cleveland, a white man aged 25 to 29 was sentenced to 36 months for raping a girl aged 12 or younger. This was an extended determinate sentence, meaning they will serve at least two-thirds of the sentence behind bars.

A white male aged 21 to 24 in Devon or Cornwall got 36 months for raping a girl aged 13 to 15.

A white man aged 50 to 59 was sentenced in Durham to 36 months for raping a woman aged 16 or over.

A man of unknown ethnicity aged 18 to 20 got 36 months in a young offender institute when sentenced in Humberside for raping a woman aged 16 or over.

In London, a white man aged 21 to 24 was sentenced to a 36-month extended determinate sentence for the rape of a woman aged 16 or over.

A white man aged 25 to 29 was sentenced in Nottinghamshire to 36 months for raping a woman aged 16 or over.

In Sussex, a male aged 18 to 20 of unknown ethnicity was sentenced to 36 months in a young offender institute for raping a woman aged 16 or over.

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