Fourteen rapists were given cautions for sex attacks on children last year, official figures have revealed.

In total 16 individuals were spared prosecution for rape or attempted rape in 2014, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) data shows.

One caution was issued for rape of a girl under 16, six for rape of a girl under 13 and seven were for rape of a boy under 13. Two more were handed out for attempted rape, one of a boy under 13 and one of a girl under 13.

The cautions were given to 14 juveniles and two 18-year-olds. In 2013 authorities issued 20 cautions for rape offences.

The cases were revealed in a tranche of statistics which showed that prosecutions for sex offences in England and Wales were at their highest for a decade in 2014 after increasing by 9%.

The MoJ report said: "The increase in recorded crime and prosecutions for sexual offences is likely to be partly due to the Operation Yewtree investigation, connected to the Jimmy Savile inquiry and the resulting media attention.

"This investigation has led to a greater number of victims coming forward to report sexual offences to the police. Improved compliance with the recording standards for sexual offences in some police forces may also be a factor."

Of those sentenced for sexual offences in 2014, more than half (59%) were given immediate jail terms.

The figures also showed that the average custodial sentence length for sex crimes stood at 62 months - more than 20 months higher than a decade ago.

However, only just over half (52.5%) of the proceedings brought for sexual offences resulted in a conviction.

The figures showed that a total of 150,000 crimes resulted in cautions last year - including more than 1,000 for sex crimes and 7,000 for violent offences.

The total number of cautions was 17% lower than 2013 and the MoJ said their use has been decreasing year on year since a peak in 2007.

Cautions can be given when there is sufficient evidence for a prosecution but it is not considered to be in the public interest to charge the perpetrator.

The offender must admit guilt and consent to a caution for it to be administered. The Crown Prosecution Service must authorise the decision to give a caution for the most serious offences.

Last year the coalition Government announced plans to scrap cautions as part of an overhaul of out-of-court disposals.

An MoJ spokeswoman said: "More people are facing the full force of the law for these horrific crimes.

"The number of sex offenders convicted last year was the highest in a decade and they are now receiving longer sentences than ever before."

The figures come after it emerged more than 1,400 prominent men, including politicians, celebrities and those linked to institutions, were being investigated for historic child sex abuse.

Police said they had seen an "unprecedented increase" in the number of reports of abuse after Savile was revealed as a prolific sex offender.

They estimated that they would receive around 116,000 reports of abuse by the end of this year.

The statistics also showed that in 2014, just over 102,600 adult offenders who were convicted of indictable offences - the most serious crimes - had 15 or more previous convictions or cautions.

Almost four in 10 (39%) of those received an immediate custodial sentence, meaning nearly two-thirds were spared jail.

The report disclosed that the number of adults with 15 or more prior convictions or cautions who received a suspended sentence for an indictable offence had increased by more than a third (35%).

This was said to have been driven by theft and public order offences.

But the MoJ report said there had been a decline in prolific offenders over recent years.

A total of 1.73 million individuals were dealt with by the criminal justice system in England and Wales last year, the lowest number since records started in 1970.

A spokeswoman for the charity Rape Crisis said it was "encouraged to see that prosecutions for sexual offences are increasing and that there has also been a slight rise in the average custodial sentence length for these crimes".

She added: "Rape and other forms of sexual violence has wide-ranging, devastating and often lifelong impacts on survivors and on their families, friends, communities and society as a whole.

"Sentencing for sexual offences should reflect their seriousness and it is concerning that a small number of rapists are still being given cautions.

"It's hard to imagine a circumstance in which this would be appropriate and these outcomes are likely to be disappointing and distressing for the survivors involved.

"While progress is undoubtedly being made and should be welcomed, it is clear there is still some way to go before all sexual violence survivors can be confident of receiving the justice they want and deserve."