Almost two in five investigations where Northamptonshire Police identify a suspect are dropped because victims do not want to press charges, figures reveal.
Thousands of suspects are avoiding justice, and victims’ rights group claim this could be due to victims fearing trials or humiliation by lawyers in court.
In Northamptonshire, victims refused to support police action in 5,398 cases where suspects were known, between April and September 2018, the latest period data is available from the Home Office.
This makes up 38% of all investigations where officers identified a suspect.
The majority of cases shelved, 3,755 incidents, involved violence against the person, which includes assault and grievous bodily harm. Other offences dropped were rapes, robberies and sexual assaults.
The overall figure has increased by 55% since April to September 2016, when 3,494 cases were stopped by victims, despite suspects being identified.
Victim Support said the data could show “a lack of public confidence in the criminal justice system”.
Diana Fawcett, chief officer at the charity, said: “Trials can take a long time to complete – around nine months on average – and many victims feel that they want to move on with their lives without prolonged distress a trial may bring.
“Having to travel to court, which can be far due to increasing court closures, can have a financial and emotional impact and this can also deter victims and witnesses.”
In Northamptonshire, 43 robbery cases were discontinued in 2018 because the victim did not want to press charges. The number of sexual offence cases which were closed, despite a suspect being identified, increased by 35%.