Will targets drive up rape conviction rate?

The police has been… well… embarassed into doing something about their abysmal record on dealing with rape cases, in response to two high profile cases – John Worboys, who managed to attack an estimated 100 women, and Kirk Reid, who managed to slip through the net multiple times and raped more than 70 women before being convicted.

The Guardian reports:

Data for each force, including the number of cases taken to court and the number of successful prosecutions, will be constantly monitored and chief constables will be called to account if the figures are deemed too low, as part of a drive to increase the persistently low conviction rate. It currently stands at 6.5%.

Inspectors will also check how many reports of rape are being regarded as not crimes and not investigated further.

The number of rape allegations recorded as crimes fell by 8% in 2007-08, prompting concerns detectives were taking early decisions to dismiss cases that they feared would fail in court, hitting their overall crime clear-up rates.

Last year, a senior adviser to the government told the Guardian that cases which did not fall into the classic “stranger rape” category – such as those where the woman was drunk or was attacked by her partner – were being dismissed by officers with a “Life on Mars” attitude based on making snap judgments about the credibility of the victim.

Under today’s strategy a new “rape performance group” led by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service will monitor each police force and CPS area in England and Wales on a quarterly basis, comparing their performance with similar forces and with national averages.

The number of rapes recorded and the number of cases discontinued by the CPS will also be tracked, and chief crown prosecutors will be called in if there are concerns about the statistics for their area.

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