Few charges brought after rape claims

SUFFOLK has one of the poorest rape detection rates in the country, The Evening Star can reveal today.The county's force is fourth from bottom, out of 43 forces across the country, with only a fifth of rape allegations resulting in charges being brought in 2004/05.

SUFFOLK has one of the poorest rape detection rates in the country, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The county's force is fourth from bottom, out of 43 forces across the country, with only a fifth of rape allegations resulting in charges being brought in 2004/05.

At the same time the number of reported rapes in Suffolk has increased by almost 6 per cent from 2003/04 to 2004/05 - an increase some attribute to victims having greater confidence in the criminal justice system.

Although not all allegations of rape are genuine, there are concerns about discrepancies in detection rates across the country.

Nicole Westmarland, chairwoman of Rape Crisis (England and Wales) said: “It is now well known that the rape conviction rate is nationally very low. But what is rarely highlighted is that there is massive variation between areas.

“This begs the questions what are the areas with higher conviction rates doing differently and, importantly, why can't other areas learn from them?

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“More and more rapes are reported to the police every year, meaning that victims are feeling more confident about coming forward and disclosing what has happened to them, secure in the knowledge that attitudes to rape are starting to change.

“It is essential that the police response also starts to change and is appropriate to modern society.”

Suffolk police insist they are doing everything within their power to detect reported rapes.

Detective Chief Inspector John Quinton, of Suffolk police, said: “We treat all cases extremely seriously and all reports are investigated thoroughly and are led by a senior officer of Detective Inspector rank or above.

“We provide a high level of support to victims through three new victim care centres recently opened across the county and interviews and statements are taken by specially trained officers. These officers are dedicated to dealing with victims of sexual offences and therefore have all the appropriate skills to deal with offences of such a sensitive nature.

“We work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service in an attempt to bring any offenders to justice and liaise with them to ensure that lawyers are appointed at the early stages of the investigation. “Changes in legislation also ensures that victims have more support throughout the criminal justice process.”

The majority of alleged perpetrators of rape are known to their victims but it is stranger rapes that often hit the headlines.

Last year there were two high-profile cases in Ipswich which both resulted in conviction.

In the first incident, in February, a 31-year-old woman was attacked near to the Regent Theatre.

Her attackers Paul Tavares and Carlos Almeida were both convicted of the offence and sentenced to 15 years in prison collectively.

And in March last year, a 21-year-old student nurse was raped in a car and dumped in Blanche Street.

Mohanid Alobaydi was sentenced to nine years in prison for that attack.

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