Suffolk's rape convictions shock
SUFFOLK police is the second worst performing force in the country at securing rape convictions, according to a new report.Less than 2% of allegations resulted in a successful prosecution, prompting calls for a review of the way such crimes are dealt with in the county.
SUFFOLK police is the second worst performing force in the country at securing rape convictions, according to a new report.
Less than 2% of allegations resulted in a successful prosecution, prompting calls for a review of the way such crimes are dealt with in the county.
The findings were uncovered by the Fawcett Commission in a report on women and the criminal justice system, released yesterday.
It found large regional variations in conviction rates for 2004 across the country, ranging from 13.8% in Northamptonshire to 1.75% in Cambridgeshire, 1.6% in Suffolk and 0.86% in Gloucestershire. Essex's figure was 3.49%, while Norfolk's was 5.13%.
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Jenny Westaway, of the Fawcett Commission, formed in 2003 to give women a voice in current debates, said the findings prove Suffolk is not the only force failing rape victims.
She said: “Women all over the country aren't getting a fair deal.
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“Even the highest performing forces don't have a very good detection rate, which is worrying. Suffolk's is one of the worst in the country and there needs to be a review of the system. This needs to include all agencies, including the health and education sector, to find the reasons for this.”
Nicole Westmarland, chairwoman of Rape Crisis (England and Wales), questioned Suffolk's poor performance.
She said: “It is now fairly well known that the criminal justice system is failing to provide justice for women who are raped. What has been less emphasised until today is this massive variation in conviction rates. The question has to be asked, if areas such as Northampton can achieve a conviction rate of 13.8%, why can Suffolk only manage 1.6%? In addition, it must be remembered that this figure is only out of those rapes that are actually recorded to the police.
“Many women never tell anyone about experiences of rape and other forms of sexual violence.”
Detective Chief Inspector John Quinton, of Suffolk police, said the county is a safe place to live, with stranger rapes extremely rare.
He said: “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.
“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.”
Ken Caley, Chief Crown Prosecutor in Suffolk, said the figures are based on reports of rape cases made to police, with not all resulting in court action.
He added: “We are aware of the low conviction rate for rape.
“We recognise rape and violent offences against women, especially in circumstances of domestic violence, can be particularly harrowing. Last year we established four witness care units to support victims and witnesses of crime.”