Revealed: less than a third of young men prosecuted for rape are convicted

23 Sep 2018

New figures show men aged 18-24 are less likely to be found guilty of rape than older men in England and Wales. 

An exclusive report in the Guardian today (Sunday 23rd Sept 2018) has published the alarming statistics, which were revealed to Labour MP Ann Coffey in response to a Freedom of Information request to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).  

Senior CPS staff believe the failure to secure convictions reflects a need to educate jurors, who appear particularly reluctant to punish young men at the start of their adult life for serious sexual assaults.

According to the figures:

  • The conviction rate last year in rape only trials involving 18- to 24-year-old men was 32% – the lowest of any age group. The number of successful prosecutions against men aged 25-59 was much higher – at 46 %.
  • In the past five years, the conviction rate for 18- to 24-year-old men who stood trial has not risen above a third. Of the 1,343 rape cases the CPS has taken against young men, only 404 were were convicted – an average of 30%.
  • The conviction rate for 18- to 24-year-olds in all rape cases – including those involving child abuse and domestic abuse – stood at 35% in the five years to 2017-18, while the conviction rate in the same types of cases for men aged 25-59 was significantly higher – 49%.

The figures cast doubt on the ability of juries to provide equal access to justice for all rape complainants. 

Rape Crisis England & Wales spokesperson Katie Russell said: 

"The criminal justice system as it stands is routinely failing victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse, in multiple ways and at every stage of the process. 

The figures revealed today highlight one extremely concerning element of this justice failure; the fundamental lack of understanding among the general public, and therefore among juries, of what consent is, and the persistent influence of myths and misinformation about sexual violence throughout our society. 

It's important to remember that the overwhelming majority of those who go through sexual violence and abuse never report it to the police. Rape Crisis knows, through our 40+ years' experience of providing frontline specialist services to victims and survivors, that significant among the reasons for this is the fear of not being believed, and of going through what can be a long and gruelling process only to see their rapist or abuser acquitted at the end of it. 

Urgent action is undoubtedly needed but there will be no quick fix for these systemic and cultural issues. Specialist training and courts, widespread public-awareness raising, good quality education on consent and healthy relationships from the earliest possible age, and significantly increased, long-term sustainable funding for specialist advocacy and support services are all vital components of the solution."

 Read the full Guardian article by Alexandra Topping and Caelainn Barr here.