Just one in five rape cases end in conviction

Only around one in five rape cases taken to court by West Midlands Police result in a conviction, figures show.

Only around one in five rape cases taken to court by West Midlands Police result in a conviction
Only around one in five rape cases taken to court by West Midlands Police result in a conviction

Ministry of Justice data shows that in 2017 only 22 per cent of the force's prosecutions for rape were successful. WMP brought 367 cases to court, and 79 resulted in convictions.

The figure was slightly higher for Staffordshire Police, at 24 per cent, with 29 convictions from 120 cases.

However, both forces are getting better at prosecuting rape cases. In 2016 the conviction rate was 19 per cent for WMP and just 16 per cent for Staffordshire Police.

Criminologist Dr Hannah Bows said the data showed there were flaws with charging decisions made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and with the court system.

"Something is going wrong because the evidence required in rape cases to get a case brought to court is so high," she added. "Any question marks and the case is unlikely to go forward."

Dr Bows said there needs to be a complete reassessment of how rape cases are brought to court, as 'what is happening now is clearly not working'.

According to the MoJ, the average successful prosecutions for rape cases in England and Wales is around one in five.

A CPS spokeswoman said: “We recognise that rape and serious sexual offences are some of the most complex cases prosecuted by the CPS and we have worked hard in recent years to improve how we deal with these cases.

"We have almost doubled the number of specialist prosecutors in our dedicated Rape and Serious Sexual Offence Units and improved the support we offer victims through criminal proceedings.

“In recognition of the unique challenges involved in prosecuting these offences and taking them to trial, the CPS is focused on building strong cases with all available evidence, including CCTV, eyewitness accounts and mobile phone evidence, and supporting victims throughout the process."

The data includes cases where rape is the principle or most serious offence, so incidents where the victim was killed would be counted as murder or manslaughter.

The conviction rate is lower than for other sexual offences. It is also worse than other serious crimes such as grievous bodily harm, which is 33 per cent.

Cleveland Police currently has the highest conviction rate for rape cases in England and Wales, at 32 per cent, while in Cumbria just nine per cent of cases brought to court were successful.

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