Detectives have investigated 200 cases of sex crimes where pensioners have been arrested in West Yorkshire during the last five years, it has emerged.

Some of the accused have been aged 80s and some of those have gone on the face charges or, in one case, receive a caution which means they accepted their guilt.

The figures illustrate the increase in historic sex crimes now being investigated by the West Yorkshire force, meaning offenders who may have escaped justice decades ago will finally be forced to answer for their actions.

One reason is a rise in the number of victims who stayed silent at the time gaining the confidence to report offences against them, but improvements to the technology available to investigators means old cases can be reviewed, often leading to positive developments which were simply not possible in the past.

Statistics show there were 217 cases investigated involving the arrest of people over 65 in West Yorkshire between 2009 and 2013.

Those investigations resulted in four people then aged in their 80s facing criminal charges, with another cautioned.

Many of the investigations have involved multiple allegations substantial numbers have involved child victims. Of those arrested during the five years, only three suspects were female. It is unclear whether any of those faced further action.

Earlier this year, concert pianist John Briggs, 65, was branded a predatory paedophile and jailed for eight years for the “relentless” abuse of five boys.

The court heard that Briggs, of Little Lane in East Morton, groomed and sexually abused two young piano students and three members of Keighley Sea Cadets between 1969 and 1993.

Detective Chief Inspector Sue Jenkinson is the Force lead for Safeguarding in West Yorkshire and said: “We have experienced a rise in historic offences over the last few years, particularly following the high profile cases seen within the media.

“Our proactive cold case unit ‘Operation Recall’ also constantly reviews unsolved sexual offences, using the latest technology for fresh leads and enquiries.

“These two factors alone have increased reporting of this serious offence and can often mean those arrested or charged fall within these older age brackets.

“The fact that we have experienced this increase, is also an indication of the confidence that victims have in coming forward.

“West Yorkshire Police treat sexual offences extremely seriously and go to every possible length to bring offenders to justice. Investigations are handled directly by specialist officers in Safeguarding Units, alongside some of West Yorkshire’s most senior detectives.”

She urged those subject to sexual offences to come forward, saying cases would be handled with sensitivity.