Kudos to The Times for putting this article on the front page today. It reports that in response to Britain being named the European country with the worst conviction rate for rape, the policing standards watchdog, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, will be launching a project to ask rape victims why they feel they have been let down by the justice system. This will form part of a nationwide audit of the police force and Crown Prosecution Service.
The article neatly shatters a number of myths, firstly that the reason for the UK’s 6.5% conviction rate is simply because rape cases are too hard to prosecute:
Two decades ago, on a lower level of reporting, the conviction rate [for the UK] was 19 per cent. The first Europe-wide study of rape conviction rates found that France, by contrast, had a conviction rate of 25 per cent in 2006 despite a steady rise in the reporting of attacks over the past 15 years.
25% isn’t ideal, of course, but it’s a hell of a lot better than 6.5 per cent, and if France can do it there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to.
Secondly, the same study found that – surprise, surprise – the proportion of false allegations is “extremely low”, ranging from 2 per cent to 9 per cent.
Finally, one of the main factors in the low conviction rate is the attitudes of the police and judiciary:
The study’s author, Liz Kelly, an expert on sexual violence who has advised senior police and the Home Office, criticises a “culture of scepticism” among officers and prosecutors and says that too many people are wedded to the stereotype of the rapist as a violent stranger.
Dave Gee, the former detective chief superintendent who heads the programme, said that Britain’s low conviction rates were partly due to poor evidence gathering and “indifferent attitudes” towards rape by police. “Too often, because of the negative mind at the outset, the case is undermined rather than built up,” he said.
You can read the rest of the article here but, as ever, I’d recommend avoiding the comments section; something tells me it’s going to fill up with false allegation obsessed rape apologists. Though I did have a little dismayed chuckle at the guy who appears to think that it’s not really rape if it happens on a Saturday night:
[the false allegation rate] does not take account of inconsistent/unreliable complainants who fatally weaken the case .Speak to officers involved in the investigations and you’ll see a lot involve alcohol, weekends and infidelity.
This is so utterly ridiculous and offensive I almost want to give him a point for inventiveness. Almost.