Rape Crisis appeals for responsible media reporting following William Roache verdict

6 Feb 2014

Following the not guilty verdict for TV actor William Roache on charges of rape and indecent assault today (6th February 2014), the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) and Rape Crisis England & Wales said:

“We implore news reporters, editors and media commentators to cover this news responsibly and to bear in mind when discussing it that many survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence are among your audience.

“The implicit message of commentary on previous cases has been that women routinely lie and that false accusations of rape are common. They are not, as demonstrated by a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) report published last year (1), which concluded that so-called false allegations of rape are ‘very rare’.

“The Government estimates that 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales every year (2) and that only around 15% of these ever report to the police. There are massive problems in our society and in our justice system around ensuring women and girls access to justice for sexual violence.

“In addition, high profile reporting of rape cases can be re-traumatising for sexual violence survivors and often leads to a spike in calls to Rape Crisis helplines. This highlights the ongoing need for sustainable specialist support services in the community for all survivors of sexual violence.

“It is our experience that acquittals of high profile men are commonly followed by calls for a change in the law on anonymity for rape defendants. We repeat: the Government had legal experts examine this proposal in 2012 and threw it out (3), concluding that it would only have a negative impact on access to justice for rape victims. What is needed is less sensational media reporting and a joint commitment to challenging damaging myths and stereotypes about rape and other forms of sexual violence.”

Rape Crisis encourages any woman or girl who has experienced sexual violence of any kind at any time in her life to find details of her nearest specialist, confidential and independent Rape Crisis services here.

Information about support services for male survivors of sexual violence can be found here.

1.     CPS report, March 2013: http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/research/perverting_course_of_justice_march_2013.pdf

2.     See Page 6 here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/214970/sexual-offending-overview-jan-2013.pdf

3.     http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN04746/anonymity-in-rape-cases