Half of jurors in rape cases reach guilty verdict before deliberation new study finds

22 Sep 2017

Almost half of jurors will come to a guilty verdict before deliberation in rape cases, a study by the University of Huddersfield has found (sourced from Womensgrid).

The research revealed that 43 per cent of jurors chose a guilty verdict prior to deliberation, with that figure rising to 83 per cent for those with personal experiences of sexual victimisation.

The study, conducted with guidance from Manchester-based chambers St John’s Buildings, queried the predictive relationship between jury make-up and their verdicts in rape cases.

As a result of the findings, researcher at Huddersfield University Dominic Willmott has called for better screening of jury members in rape trials.

However, 13 per cent of the jurors studied changed their decision following discussions with fellow jurors, indicating that victims were able to recognise their pre-existing bias.

The study took 400 volunteers selected randomly from the electoral roll and replicated a trial environment to assess how attitudes, backgrounds, and perceptions can impact on verdicts.

Of those that took part, 7.4 per cent reported that they had personally been a victim of a sexual offence, including sexual assault and rape.

Advanced analysis on the data found that jurors with personal experience of sexual victimisation were four times more likely to convict in court, prior to deliberations taking place.

According to Ministry of Justice statistics, 1,297 convictions were secured in 2015, representing less than 4 per cent of all cases recorded by police over the 12 months.