A piece in today’s Times by Richard Ford, Home Correspondent:
Victims’ groups have described figures showing that the number of rape convictions was at its lowest level for five years as “truly alarming”.
One said that the “creeping decriminalisation” of rape led attackers to believe that they could get away with it.
Dame Vera Baird, the victims’ commissioner, said: “The criminal justice system is letting down current victims and creating new victims by failing to tackle potential serial rapists. More complainants are coming forward, but fewer cases are being prosecuted.”
Official figures from the Rape Monitoring Group showed that the number of rape convictions fell over a five-year period, from 1,095 in 2012-13 to 1,062 in 2017-18. In the same period the number recorded by the police in England and Wales rose. In 2012-13 there were 16,374 and in 2017-18 there were 54,045.
The proportion of rapes resulting in a charge in the year they were reported fell to 1.5 per cent in the year to March, down from 10.8 per cent in 2015-16.
There have been rows about the disclosure of evidence in cases, criticism about sensitive personal information requested from alleged victims and concerns that the police were struggling to deal with the quantity of digital evidence generated in many cases.
Sarah Greene, co-director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “These figures are truly alarming. How on earth can we have the lowest number of actual rape convictions in years, down by hundreds of cases, when the number of women reporting rape has increased nearly threefold? It amounts to creeping decriminalisation of rape and impunity for those who do it.”
Katie Russell, of Rape Crisis England & Wales, said: “The police and Crown Prosecution Service must explain why, when more and more victims and survivors are putting their trust in them by coming forward, fewer and fewer are receiving the justice they deserve.”
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