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Rape Crisis responds to Home Affairs Select Committee report on police bail

20 Mar 2015

In response to the report on police bail released today (Friday 20th March 2015) by the Home Affairs Select Committee, Rape Crisis national spokeswoman Katie Russell said:

“Rape Crisis is disappointed that the Home Affairs Select Committee has used its report on police bail to recommend changes to the law on anonymity for suspects in sexual offence cases.

It is of course important to ensure that suspects in sexual offence cases receive the same rights as suspects investigated for other serious crimes. Making special exceptions for sexual offence suspects, however, reinforces the widely held myth that those accused of sexual offences are more likely to have been falsely accused than suspects in other types of case. This is simply not true; false reports of rape are rare.

The police currently have discretion to name suspects where there are investigative reasons for doing so. As rape is a known repeat offence, and as evidenced by cases like that of John Warboys, it is in the interests of justice that the police retain this discretion for sexual as well as other offences.

Rape Crisis welcomes calls for greater transparency around the relationship between the police and the media, and more responsible media reporting of sexual offence cases, which can adversely affect sexual violence survivors as well as others, but does not believe these amount to a case for changing the law on anonymity.

It is deeply concerning that the Committee does not appear to make reference in today’s report to the wider context of sexual violence. Anywhere where these issues are addressed must not ignore that 85,000 women and 10,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year, only 15% of these report to the police and a tiny fraction receive criminal justice.”