Hardly Any Rape Cases Lead to Charges in England and Wales: Report

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Only 1.5 percent of all rape cases in England and Wales resulted in a charge or summons—a figure that breaks down to just one in 65.

The Guardian reports that rape prosecutions have seen an alarming drop off in recent years:

The drop is particularly dramatic at a time when victims are reporting more attacks. Four years ago one in seven or 14% of cases led to a suspect being charged or summonsed – a total of 4,908 in 2015-16. Last year fewer than one in 65 reports of rape (1.5%) resulted in a charge or a summons, for a total of only 886 in 2018-19.

The 61 percent increase in reports of rape between 2015 and 2019 can possibly be attributed to #MeToo, which has prompted more women to go to police following a sexual assault. As for why more reports would mean fewer charges, a separate Guardian article says there are a number of factors contributing to the decline:

More cases are not assigned an outcome or are stalling because of evidential difficulties, such as when a suspect has not been identified or a victim no longer wishes to continue with an investigation.

The cases are also complex to investigate and an increasing amount of digital evidence is being requested from complainants. Last year, more than half of all rape cases took more than 100 days to assign an outcome.

Ironically, accompanying the rise in reports is an increase in the amount of time victims have to wait, with the Ministry of Justice determining that up to seven months can elapse between a defendant entering a not guilty plea and a trial:

The justice minister Paul Maynard said in his written reply: “The overall median waiting time in crown courts for defendants in sexual offence cases tends to be higher than that for other offences due to a lower guilty plea rate for these cases.

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In the U.S., only about 5.7 percent of reported rapes end in arrest; just 0.7 percent result in a felony conviction.

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