Police have defended a rise in the number of sex offenders and violent criminals being cautioned, saying strict criteria is followed before a decision is made.

A Freedom of Information request revealed Redbridge police issued 787 cautions in the last financial year, compared to 754 in the previous 12 months.

A total of 32 people who admitted sexual offences were cautioned, compared to seven in the previous 12 months.

Violent offenders were cautioned on 441 occasions, compared to 384 the previous year.

Jan Scott, north east London divisional manager of Victim Support, voiced concern that the rise could mean victims may not receive the support they need.

Cautions are issued to people who admit an offence, but they do not go through a legal process, meaning their identities are not disclosed and there is no court trial.

But Redbridge police insisted there was no cause for concern, claiming officers adhered to rigorous criteria and victims were consulted before a decision was made.

A spokeswoman said: “A caution remains on a person’s record for three years and must be declared as if it were a criminal conviction.

“In terms of the rise in cautions for sexual offences, the vast majority of these are for the offence of ‘soliciting for the purpose of prostitution’. 

“A caution is appropriate in these cases and additional support and diversion services provided by our partners will be offered to the sex workers at the time.

“As far as violence against the person is concerned an increase in cautions would be expected as we have unfortunately seen a rise in reported offences. 

“These injuries are often actually quite minor and in these circumstances a caution is the appropriate disposal if the other criteria are met.”