'Survivors of rape are not getting justice': Anger as rape conviction rate falls despite huge rise in cases
PUBLISHED: 05:29 29 August 2019
Victims of rape are "not getting justice" because the rate of convictions has fallen despite a big increase in the crime over the past year, it has been warned.
Statistics released by the government show the number of reported rapes in Suffolk has risen year on year, from 560 to 779 - a rate of 105 reports for every 100,000 people in 2017/18.
Although the number of convictions has risen slightly this year, from 27 to 29, the proportion of convictions has dropped from 66% to 57%, year on year.
Director of Suffolk Rape Crisis, Amy Roch, was angry but unsurprised by figures.
She said: "Once again these statistics show that survivors of rape are not getting justice.
"We know that these statistics only represent a small number of those who are raped each year, with the government's own statistics stating that less than 20% of people report."
Figures in Essex were similar, with a 25% increase in rape cases, rising from 1,078 to 1,362.
The rate of convictions in Essex remains at about 60%.
There has also been a sharp rise in the percentage of cases where problems with evidence stop a charge being made.
More than 75% of cases in Suffolk concluded this way last year and 72% in Essex.
Miss Roch added: "For the women who access our service, the reasons for this are varied but include fear of being retraumatised by the criminal justice process, not being believed or feeling like they are the ones being investigated.
"The failures of the justice system are having a direct impact on our service.
"Our waiting list is at an all-time high, increasing by 90% over the last 18 months, despite increasing our counselling hours by 70% during this time.
Head of Suffolk Constabulary's Protecting Vulnerable People Directorate, Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, said: "The constabulary will continue to thoroughly investigate offences of rape and serious sexual offences and ensure that available evidence is collected and presented to the CPS, ultimately bringing offenders to justice.
"It should be remembered that this is one form of positive outcome for a victim and we strive to ensure the voice of the victim is heard throughout investigations whilst providing consistency of public service."
Across England and Wales, the time taken from charge to conclusion has risen for the fifth year in a row, up to 254 days on average.
The average length of sentences has dropped slightly, to nine years and five months.
Det Sput Bridger added: "Hidden harm investigations are some of the most complex that are tackled as by their very nature they tend to occur behind closed doors or where only the victim and perpetrator are present.
"This provides challenges to evidence collection that do not exist in many other areas of criminal investigation.
"Investments in training, the use of forensic science and technology are ensuring that investigations are carried out to the highest standards."