London's Met Police 'gave five rapists cautions'
Five rapists were given police cautions rather than taken to court last year, figures released by the Metropolitan Police have shown.
Cautions were given to 28,998 people, including 180 for grievous bodily harm or wounding and 165 for sex offences.
The Met said it followed national police guidelines.
London Assembly member Tony Arbour, who requested the figures, said the use of cautions for serious offences was "outrageous".
The Metropolitan Police said: "For a caution to be issued, an offender must have made a clear and reliable admission, there is a realistic prospect of a conviction, and it is in the public interest to administer a caution.
- An informal caution is an oral warning given by a police officer and does not count towards a criminal record
- A formal caution will normally be given at a police station by an officer of inspector rank or above. It is regarded as a serious matter and may be cited in any subsequent court proceedings
- A caution is not a conviction but it is administered only in cases where there is sufficient evidence for a prosecution and where the subject has admitted guilt
"For some sexual offences, in cases where the victim may not wish to proceed to court... the accused individual can be placed on the sex offences register for two years."
According to the figures, 5,843 people received cautions for violent attacks with injury, 131 for robbery and 318 offenders for drug trafficking.
Mr Arbour said: "It is unfair on victims, and the fact that a law-abiding resident will receive the same or even worse punishment for minor traffic offences as drug traffickers, robbers and rapists is simply outrageous."
The Crown Prosecution Service said there are two types of caution - simple and conditional. In the case of the latter, failure to comply with specific conditions would result in the original offence being prosecuted.
It said it advised police on indictable offences such as rape and murder, but otherwise it was an operational police matter.
Justice Minister Damian Green said: "The use of cautions has drastically fallen in the last five years and we are clear that people who commit serious crimes should be brought before a court."
He added a review into their use was due to be published shortly.
Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said: "Victims must have decisions explained to them in order to retain their confidence in the police and other criminal justice agencies.
"The police need to be clear on when it is appropriate to give a caution - for example this is not likely to be right for most violent and sexual offences."