Police force rape data published

31 Jan 2014

Police data on the number of rapes recorded by 43 police forces, and the outcomes, are published together for the first time today. These data sets will help the general public to understand the extent of rape offending in their area and look at how their force is responding to this serious crime alongside other forces. These data sets will be available on HMIC’s website as part of a range of information for PCCs to consider when assessing local police performance. 

The number of recorded rapes, of both adults and children (under 16 years), has steadily increased since March 2008. In the last financial year (to March 2013) there were approximately 6,000 recorded rapes of children and approximately 10,000 recorded rapes of adults in England and Wales. 
 
The numbers, of course, can never tell the full story. Increases in the numbers of rapes being recorded may mean that victims feel more confident in reporting what happened to them; or decreases may mean that victims are losing confidence in the authorities to treat them sensitively. 
 
In September 2013, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) hosted an event for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to discuss HMIC’s approach to monitoring forces, with practical examples of how data can be used to assist in setting priorities and identifying who is accountable for improving services to victims. At this event, PCCs asked for more data on rapes across all forces, and today HMIC, on behalf of the Rape Monitoring Group (RMG), is publishing 43 force reports showing how many rapes were recorded by the police in each force, and the outcomes. 
 
For both adults and children, the force digests: 
• show the number of recorded rapes per 100,000 people in the area; 
• show the sanction detections for rape by the force; 
• show the rate at which rape was classed as ‘no crime rate’ by the force; 
• allow data from each police force to be seen alongside the data for other individual forces in England and Wales; and 
• show trends in recorded rape over time. 
 
In publishing the force digests, HMIC is providing information for police forces and PCCs to contribute to the development of a full and thorough analysis of how rape is dealt with in their force area. In addition to the data, the digests supply a range of important questions to be considered alongside local information. 
 
The RMG is made up of representatives from criminal justice inspectorates, government, the wider criminal justice system and the police service and regularly examines data on rape 
recorded by the police in order to identify trends in performance. The RMG will continue publishing data on rape at regular intervals to inform the public and to maintain a transparent approach. 
 
Chair of the RMG, HM Inspector of Constabulary, Dru Sharpling, said on behalf of the RMG members: 
 
“Rape is one of the most serious violent crimes and the impact on victims can be devastating. It is absolutely crucial that the police and wider criminal justice system has all of the information available to ensure that victims are being believed and the police are following through investigations 
 
“We will be seeking to improve on these data sets and will publish information at regular intervals to encourage and maintain performance improvements across England and Wales.” 
 
Rape Crisis England & Wales commented:
"Rape Crisis England & Wales welcomes and supports the release of data related to child and adult rape from 43 police forces across England and Wales by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) Rape Monitoring Group today (31st January 2014).  The move reflects a commitment to transparency and to the meaningful scrutiny of police practice that is vital if we want to see an improvement in criminal and social justice outcomes for rape survivors.  Rape Crisis also welcomes HMIC’s recognition of the long-term, often lifelong, and devastating impacts rape can have on those it affects and of the importance of believing victims who choose to report.

Rape Crisis is concerned by the persistently high levels of ‘no criming’ today’s data reveals, as well as by the disparities in statistics between different police forces.  These figures suggest that there has been limited improvement in police recording and practice since HMIC published its Forging the Links report jointly with Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) in February 2012, which highlighted concerns around inconsistent and inadequate recording and investigating of sexual offences across England and Wales.  How many more national reports it will take before we see a real and marked improvement in criminal justice for rape survivors?

Through our 40 years’ experience of providing specialist sexual violence support services to women and girls, Rape Crisis knows that the kind of independent advocacy many of our member organisations offer can make a real difference to those who choose to report.  By supporting survivors practically and emotionally, Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) can impact the rate at which victims withdraw from the criminal justice process due to not feeling believed, heard or kept informed.  As well as encouraging improvements in police performance, we hope the data released today will remind Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and others of the crucial importance of ensuring access to specialist sexual violence services through sustainable funding.

It’s also important not to forget that the vast majority of those who experience rape or other forms of sexual violence still do not report to the police.  We encourage anyone affected by sexual violence, no matter how long ago or whether or not they have reported, to find details of their nearest specialist, confidential Rape Crisis services at our website."