The police have unveiled plans today to experiment with gathering evidence for rape trials by encouraging suspects to incriminate themselves with texts and phone calls to the victims.
“Police get the victim to send a text saying something like ‘how could you do that to me?'” said a senior CPS source. “They sometimes get a text back saying ‘I’m really sorry, I know I was out of order, it won’t happen again’ or something like that.”
The so-called “pretext” phone call, which is lawful in some US states but not in others, is considered one of the strongest tools in the armoury of the rape investigator. It is widely used in the typical rape case where juries are reluctant to convict, those in which the man and woman know each other and the evidence comes down to his word against hers.
The plans are proving controversial as some experts believe that they contravene the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984) which requires police to caution a suspect before questioning him. If this is the case then it’s incredibly frustrating, as it is surely a fair way of obtaining accurate evidence for a crime notorious for lack of evidence and consequent difficulty in securing convictions. (I have to say however that in the above example that the CPS source has given, the texts sound pretty ambiguous and could refer to anything – I hope that if this scheme gets off the ground they’ll be a bit more specific in their wording).
The Guardian has taken the opportunity today to revisit the problems of rape cases, and there is a lot of interesting if sobering reading. Beth Ellis was repeatedly raped by her stepfather over a period of ten years and this is what happened when she reported it. Her diary has been published today, and makes for horrific reading. Seriously, it’s quite upsetting – I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re feeling at all emotionally fragile today. There’s also a pretty clear and logical explanation of the problems plaguing rape cases even when they are handled professionally, which has attracted all the usual trolls:
“This means that for every 18 women who report a rape to the police, 17 fail to secure justice.”
This is a propostosterous statement. An accusation does not equal a crime. Just because one was reported does not mean one was committed.
There is strong evidence that about 25%, or one in four of rape complaints are false. See the link below for the source.
Of course false allegations are sometimes made, and that is why juries exist. It’s quite right that if a jury is unsure of whether or not the defendant is guilty, they should not reach a guilty verdict. I don’t feel that I should have to make the above statement as it’s blatantly obvious and any decent human being would agree with it, but seeing as I’m writing for one of these “man-hating feminist forums” I feel as if I ought to make it clear that I don’t believe that all men accused of rape should be unceremoniously strung up by their balls and forced to listen to James Blunt, and that making a false rape allegation is a disgusting, heinous thing to do. But honestly, how many women would put themselves through the horrors of a rape trial if they hadn’t been raped? Not one in four, that’s for sure. But then, I guess we’re all so “hysterical” we couldn’t possibly weigh up the pleasure of getting back at some bloke who spurned us against the humiliation of having our sexual history pored over by an entire courtroom. Perhaps we’re just all on our periods.
Rape is a terrifyingly common crime. I personally know several women who have been raped, and that’s not because I seek them out for feminist ranting fodder – they’re just friends of mine who have, at one time or another, confessed that they have been raped. None of them even thought of reporting it to the police because in each instance it was a man they knew, they had no bruises or other evidence of violence, and there were no witnesses. But apart from the lack of evidence, they simply feared not being believed. Thank goodness that in the case of Beth Ellis, there is virtually nobody who would disagree that if her stepfather is guilty, he deserves to rot in a prison cell for as long as possible. But there are a lot of people who think that a man who has non-consensual sex with a woman who is drunk, dressed “provocatively”, has been on a date with him, has agreed to non-penetrative sexual activity, or has “a history” (surely one of the most revolting expressions in the English language) is not really a rapist. He is a rapist. He may not be anywhere near as disgusting and sick an individual as a man who would violently rape a five-year-old, and he may not deserve as long a sentence, but he is still a rapist. We mightn’t be able to tackle the problem of lack of evidence in rape cases very easily, but we can certainly shout about the fact that nobody should have the right to insert their rude bits into our rude bits without consent under any circumstances.