Rape conviction rates fall

By Alice Cannet

Less than one in 16 rapes reported to the police end up with someone convicted in court, according to research by the Lib Dems.

The data published today showed that the number of rapes reported to the police has increased from 7,128 in 1998 to 11,634 in 2007 while only 6 per cent of the latter resulted in a court conviction.

From less than one in 13 in 1998, the conviction rate has fallen to one in 16. Yet the number of people taken to court has remained largely the same from 1,924 people in 1998 to 1,959 in 2007.

In London, the Metropolitan Police Force recorded the highest number of rapes in 2007, followed by the West midlands police, Greater Manchester police and West Yorkshire police.

European comparison data from the European sourcebook of crime and criminal justice 2006 also showed the appalling ranking of Britain compared to other European states.

Out of the 27 European countries, England and Wales came last with a raw conviction rate of 5.1 per cent and ranked 19 on the ‘true’ conviction rate which included the number of unreported rapes.

Lib Dem data was obtained in a parliamentary answer and consisted of the number of rapes recorded regionally, the number of people proceeded against and the number found guilty.

Chris Huhne, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, commented: “The low conviction rates across the country in rape cases are nothing short of a national disgrace. We have the worst rape conviction record in Europe.

“Shockingly, these figures show that an even smaller percentage of rapists are being bought to justice than a decade ago.

“It is appalling that so few rapes reported to the police even reach the courts. It’s little wonder that thousands more rapes go unreported as women have no confidence that their attacker will ever face trial.

“The government is misleading people when it suggests that the conviction rate for rape is 36 per cent. The truth is far less palatable,” he continued.

The government maintained that the conviction rate for rape was up to 36% in 2007, from 28% in 1998.

The statistic was solely based on the number of rapes proceeded against, ignoring the fact that only 6 per cent of them resulted in someone found guilty compared with 7.6 per cent in 1998.