The Department of Justice has produced figures which show that the average (median) time taken for processing cases where the main aspect was a sexual offence is 667 days. This is in comparison to an average of 167 days in all other case or as low as 138 days for cases where the offences relate to public order offences.
The time is calculated from the point when the case was either reported to or detected by the PSNI until the date when the case was finally disposed of at court.
Almost a year ago, Brendan McGuigan, the Chief inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland said that he felt that the criminal justice system, courts, police and prosecutors, were letting down the victims of sexual abuse.
We have previously highlighted the difficulties of investigating cases off sexual abuse as they often remain hidden for some time before victims feel secure enough to come forward. Inevitably the time lost will impact on the ability to collect evidence to corroborate the reports and that will make the investigation and prosecution of the cases more complex.
The size of the gap between sexual offences and non-sexual offences is however astounding and it is something which will draw attention and criticism from many quarters.
Written by Ciara McReynolds at BLM