Thousands of suspected and convicted criminals who skipped court bail while facing charges including murder, child sex offences and rape are on the run.
Figures obtained by the BBC show more than 13,000 people are subject to outstanding arrest warrants in England, with the oldest dating back to 1980.
Victim Support’s David Padgett said people fear justice will not be done.
The Home Office said it was up to individual police forces to monitor outstanding warrants.
Figures were supplied following Freedom of Information requests to all 39 police forces in England. The BBC asked for details of arrest warrants issued via the courts due to suspects not attending hearings.
There are 13,492 known warrants outstanding, although nine forces refused to provide details or did not reply to our request.
Of those forces who did reply, The Metropolitan Police had the highest number of outstanding warrants with 1,835. Greater Manchester, West Midlands and West Yorkshire police also had more than 1,000 each.
Rape accused on the runSouny Ibrahim Mustafa allegedly assaulted and raped an 18-year-old woman in the street in Derby in 2005. He has been wanted since 2006Priyank Jayendra Rathod was sentenced to six years in his absence at Derby Crown Court on October 28, 2015 for sexual assault on a girl under 13, attempted rape, causing/inciting prostitution of/pornography involving a child under 13, two counts of making an indecent photograph of a child and possession of an indecent photograph/pseudo photograph of a child. He has been wanted since December 2014Robert George Pocock is wanted in connection with alleged offences of rape and sexual assault between 1982 and 1998 on children and adults. He has been wanted since June 2000A fourth man is wanted for non-appearance at court. He had been accused of rape, but was found not guilty in his absence
Source: Derbyshire Police
The oldest outstanding warrant came from West Yorkshire Police and is more than 35 years old. It relates to a man accused of violently attacking a police constable in 1980.
The force says it has made a “continuous effort to find the defendant,” including checks at his home address and with credit reference agencies, the Passport Office, NHS, DVLA, benefits agencies and Interpol.
Source:: BBC world news feed