CPS confirms false rape allegations are very rare
Rape Crisis (England and Wales) welcomes today’s publication of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) report into so-called false allegations of rape and domestic violence. In particular, we are pleased that this study confirms and highlights what we within the Rape Crisis movement have known for some time; that false reporting of rape is very rare.
RCEW represents a network of independent Rape Crisis Centres with 40 years’ experience of providing specialist, front-line services to women and girls whose lives have been affected by sexual violence of any kind at any time. Of the 60,000 women and girls we support each year, only 15% will ever report to the police. Our service users tell us that among the main reasons they are reluctant to engage with the criminal justice system is the fear of not being believed. The widespread myth that false reporting is common and that women routinely lie about being raped, perpetuated by disproportionate and distorted media coverage, fuels this fear and so contributes to an environment in which rape survivors don’t get access to the support and justice they need and deserve.
RCEW acknowledges the impact that being falsely accused of any crime can have on an individual’s life and welcomes the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s reassurance that the small number of such cases will continue to be robustly dealt with. At the same time, through our considerable experience of front-line work with women and girls we know that the effects of rape and other kinds of sexual violence on survivors’ physical, reproductive, sexual and mental health can last years and even decades. Government statistics released in January told us that around 85,000 women are raped and over 400,000 sexually assaulted on average in this country every year. It is high time that the focus of the media and criminal justice system shifted towards upholding the needs and rights, and hearing the voices, of this significant but often overlooked group. Rape Crisis greets every step towards this with enthusiasm and optimism and is keen to continue working with the CPS and others to make more progress into the future.