Forces pledge vigorous pursuit of rape cases in spite of low charge rate
A fraction of rape cases lead to suspects being charged in Suffolk and Essex, new figures show.
One in 18 cases (5.5%) resulted in charges between April and June in Suffolk, while about one in 15 (6.9%) reached that conclusion in Essex, Home Office data showed.
During that quarter, 108 cases were closed in Suffolk, with six suspects charged or ordered to court. Of 320 cases closed in Essex, 22 had the same outcome.
Charges were more common for other sex crimes – 8% of 272 Suffolk cases and 541 Essex cases.
Nationally, suspects were charged or summonsed in 4% of rape cases – down from 22% in 2014-15, while reports increased.
Nearly half of Suffolk cases and more than half of Essex cases closed due to lack of evidence or victims opposing further action.
Rape Crisis England and Wales has called for a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system, and funding for specialist services to ensure victims have access to criminal and social justice.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said improvement had been made in training, recording, and access to referral centres, but that rates were affected by factors including time to review digital and third-party evidence.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said 47% of cases referred by police were charged last year, and that it had doubled its number of specialist prosecutors, but that many offences happened in private, without witnesses, and forensics often establishing only that sexual contact took place.
Suffolk police said figures reflected the national picture and a greater confidence of victims to come forward – some reporting historical offences, making securing convictions challenging.
Temp Det Supt Barry Byford, head of the Protecting Vulnerable People Directorate, said all cases would be pursued vigorously, with the victim’s views and desired outcomes central to any decisions.
“The constabulary will continue to thoroughly investigate offences and ensure that available evidence is collected and presented to the CPS,” he added.
Essex Police said 44% of adult rapes were linked to domestic abuse – with insufficient evidence for charges in many cases.
“We continue to remain determined in bringing perpetrators to justice and where there is sufficient evidence,” said a spokesman.
“We understand that reports of rape and sexual offences are highly emotive and we do not underestimate the impact such crimes have on their victims.”
To report a rape or sexual assault, call Essex Police or Suffolk Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.