Rapists could be convicted more quickly and successfully if the police and the Crown Prosecution Service made better use of available intelligence
A joint inspection published on 28thFebruary by HM Inspectorates of Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service stated that: The number of rapes recorded by the police has risen by 3,261 (26%) over the last three years. Criminal justice agencies attribute this partly to victims having more confidence that police and prosecutors will deal with offences sensitively and professionally. HMIC and HMCPSI found that there is some evidence to support this: as previous reports have recognised while there is absolutely no room for complacency, the reactions of practitioners have become more attuned to the needs of victims, and to the problems associated with the investigation and prosecution of this serious offence. Investigative techniques and prosecutions must also improve to ensure that perpetrators of rape and the full extent of their offending are identified quickly and where appropriate prosecuted. For a copy of the full report Forging the Links Rape Investigation and Prosecution go to www.hmic.gov.uk
However, the inspection found:
HM Inspector of Constabulary, Dru Sharpling, said: “As we say in this report, the safe conviction of those guilty of rape is powerful protection for victims and society at large. We found that more can be done to make better use of the systems and processes in place around gathering and analysing intelligence, which will improve the service and experience of the criminal justice process for victims, and prevent crimes. Whist the service for victims is getting better, there is absolutely no room for complacency and good intelligence, the right investigative approach and targeting resources effectively are key to preventing rape and catching perpetrators. Our review makes a number of practical recommendations which, if implemented, could make a difference to the police service’s ability to understand and solve rape, and the criminal justice process.”
HMCPSI Chief Inspector, Michael Fuller QPM, said: “Progress has been made, particularly in the quality of CPS charging decisions; however this is a serious crime and the Police and CPS need to make sure they do a better job of securing convictions. Closer working between prosecutors and investigators should be the standard in all rape investigations.”
Rape Crisis (England and Wales) welcomes any investigation into the way rape cases are handled and rape victims are treated following reporting to the police.
We are pleased that the Inspectorates have found improvements in the criminal justice response to rape, which reflect our own member Rape Crisis Centres' experience of improved partnership working in particular local areas over recent years.
Nonetheless, Rape Crisis is extremely concerned to learn that there appears to be little or no improvement in the level of rape cases that are "no-crimed".
Rape is a serious, violent crime that can have devastating long-term effects on its victims and impacts negatively on all areas of society. This needs to be understood and reinforced at all levels of the criminal justice system before we can see a significant improvement in rates of reporting and conviction.
Belief and support for survivors must be integrated into police responses from the earliest point of contact. As well as this, we need to raise awareness to dispel the common myths that negatively affect outcomes for victims and confidence in criminal justice.
In the meantime, it remains essential that the 90% of women and girls who experience sexual violence and do not currently report to the police have access to the specialised, confidential and independent support of a Rape Crisis Centre. Continued support and funding is crucial to ensuring the sustainability of existing Rape Crisis services and the development of new ones in areas where they don't currently exist.