A piece by Nicholas Hellen in today’s Sunday Times:
Police forces are recording suspected and convicted rapists as female if they no longer wish to identify with their male birth sex.
Six forces, including South Yorkshire and Thames Valley, disclosed under freedom of information laws that if someone is arrested for or convicted of rape, the official record will state the gender they chose to identify themselves as.
A further five forces — Durham, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk as well as British Transport Police — did not answer the question directly but each said they recorded gender in line with the person’s wishes.
Nicola Williams, director of Fair Play for Women, which submitted the requests, said: “You can’t get much more of a male crime than rape. It would be highly offensive to a woman who was raped to have it written down that her attacker was a female when clearly that was a male with a penis.”
The legal definition of rape involves penetration with a penis without consent.
She added: “Sexual crimes are overwhelmingly committed by males.”
In a statement, South Yorkshire police said: “We will accept the details that an individual provides us and treat them according[ly].”
Asked in the request how it recorded the gender of a male-born person who self-identifies as female and is arrested or convicted for rape, Thames Valley police said: “In this scenario, a male-born person self-identifying as female should be recorded as female on our source system.”
Dorset, Dyfed-Powys and North Wales police confirmed the same policy, as did Devon and Cornwall, although it also records the person’s previous identity.
The records form part of the official returns, known as the annual data requirement (ADR), submitted by every police force in England and Wales to the Home Office.
While some police forces said they record the fact if someone identifies as transgender, this information is not placed on the ADR, which provides only male or female options. Transgender status is stated only if the person is a victim of transgender hate crime.
There are also cases where a suspected or convicted rapist may subsequently change gender although this would not affect the recording of the crime.
Detective Superintendent Coretta Hine of Kent police, said: “A female may be under investigation for rape or have a conviction for rape that was committed when they had male genitalia. Kent police currently manages three offenders with convictions for rape who now self-define as female.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “How gender is recorded is a matter for each individual force. However, as a general rule we will accept the details that an individual provides us and treat them accordingly.”
It said that “if there is an honestly held doubt about a person’s gender, then every effort will be made to establish that person’s gender identity”.
“There is no evidence to suggest that recording a person’s gender based on the information that they provide will have an impact on an investigation or on national crime statistics, because of the low numbers involved.”
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