There was a backlog of nearly 17,600 unresolved child abuse cases in the files of the Attorney General’s Department at the end of 2017, according to its annual performance report presented to Parliament this month.

Meanwhile, the latest report of the Prisons Department shows that there were 161 direct admissions of convicted child abusers in the same year—making up 0.7 percent of the total number of direct admissions in 2017. This was the lowest total since 2015.

The majority of offenders (30) were convicted for having sexual intercourse with children followed by sexual abuse of children (29) and rape of a girls under 16 years (29). The next largest category was those who involved children in and procured children for sexual activities (24). Across the three years, these offences have been the most numerous and mainly carried out by men. In 2016, there were 231 direct admissions of convicted child abuse offenders, while the number was even higher, at 267, the previous year.

The other types of child abuse listed are use of children for photographic publications and display; cruelty to children; incest; inducement and involvement of children in begging; use of children in drug trafficking; unnatural offences with children (under 16); acts of gross indecency (under 16); procuring; and sale of children (under 18).

The AG’s Department’s Child Abuse Cases Unit was set up in 2004 for the “speedy disposal of cases”, including of sexual offences against women referred for the advice of the Attorney General. The performance report says the Department recruited 18 young lawyers to work in the unit with an additional supporting staff of 14. They concluded 2,488 cases during the year, yet 17,582 cases remained.

The number of cases completed in 2017 is marginally higher than what it was in 2016. That year, 3,651 cases were opened and 2,354 files concluded. But the statistics for 2015 were discouraging: only 1,801 files were concluded while 3,338 cases were opened.