Britain: Report Reveals Low Rate of Rape Convictions
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 11:21 AM

In June 2009, the Fawcett Society, a women’s rights organization based in London, released a report examining Britain’s 2007 rape conviction rates, the most current government information available. The group found that when women report rape to the English police there continues to be a low rate of conviction for the perpetrators. There is also a growing gap between conviction rates in police force areas: “Women who report rape are more than eleven times more likely to secure a conviction for rape in some areas than in others. In Cleveland almost one in five reported rapes led to a conviction for rape. In Dorset, less than one in sixty women who reported rape secured a conviction for rape.” From Fawcett Society Press Release.  


The Detective Chief Inspector of the Cleveland Police Force, Alastair Simpson, links Cleveland’s improvement in conviction rates to its partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service, volunteer groups, and local hospitals. Partnering with these organizations has helped to make sure that victims are given adequate care and that evidence is obtained quickly. In 2007 Cleveland’s Sexual Assault Centre opened and is another major improvement in victim care. The centre conducts interviews, has medical examination facilities, and has “24-hour access to specially trained rape crisis workers, emergency contraception, sexual health advice and referral to rape counselours.” From Britain’s Low Rate of Rape Convictions Blasted. In Cleveland, rape victims are also given the option of having an independent sexual violence advisor to give them legal and emotional support. Even with all of these measures in place to assist rape victims, Cleveland’s rate of convicting attackers is still only 18 percent.


In January 2009 the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the End Violence Against Women campaign published a joint report in which they “highlighted the patchy nature of support for women suffering violence, with one-third of English local authorities offering no specialized services for crimes such as rape, domestic violence, forced marriage and trafficking.” From Britain’s Low Rate of Rape Convictions Blasted.  The Fawcett Society calls for better training for police dealing with rape and domestic violence, and for police forces to follow the model of partnerships set by Cleveland County. The organization also wants the British government to create a national campaign to raise awareness and stop the myths about rape.


“The appalling figures in most police force areas reveal that women continue to face a postcode lottery when reporting rape to the police…It is a national scandal that thousands of rape victims have no access to justice, and frequently face a culture of disbelief and delayed responses which may lead to the loss of vital evidence,” said the outgoing director of the Fawcett Society, Katherine Rake. From Fawcett Society Press Release.  The Fawcett Society created a map showing the regional rape conviction rates of 2007 which can be viewed here.


Compiled from: Britain’s Low Rate of Rape Convictions Blasted, Sarah Irving, Women’s eNews, 28 July 2009. Fawcett Society Press Release, Fawcett Society, 10 June 2009.