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UK Govt, Police Pledge Rape Conviction Rate Rise

Home Office (UK)

Government and Police make new pledge for consistent approach to rape

A pledge to increase the conviction rate for rape by ensuring a consistent police response will be made today by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker and the Association of Chief Police Officers' John Yates at a conference attended by forces from across the country.

Five percent of all women have experienced rape but only 15 percent report it to the police, according to the British Crime Survey. Of those that do report it, 70 percent of cases are lost before the case makes it to court. Overall the conviction rate for all rapes reported to the police is around six percent.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said:

"Rape is one of the most serious and devastating crimes. We know that it remains under-reported and we are determined to improve this and increase the conviction rate.

"We have made great progress. Specially trained officers and prosecutors now operate in every area, training and guidance for the police has been updated and a team of experts have visited every force to put together tailored action plans. The challenge now is to keep up the focus on this work and ensure that the policies and procedures that have been developed are being implemented consistently.

"Every force has a responsibility to ensure that every single officer who comes into contact with a rape victim is supportive and believes the victim. It may only take the raising of an eyebrow to cause her to lose courage."

John Yates, Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police Service and ACPO lead on rape said:

"Every inspection and review in recent years has agreed that in the UK we have great examples of best practice and some of the best training in the world available to those investigating rape. In recent years we have made significant advances in the way we approach investigation of this difficult offence, but despite that, delivery remains inconsistent and there is much more to do.

"Rape is a uniquely difficult crime to investigate. Most cases involve people who know each other where consent is the issue. But the fact that it's difficult means we need to up our game and redouble our efforts to ensure victims can have confidence in the way they are approached by those working in the criminal justice system.

"My task is ensure colleagues across the country recognise the challenges and devote the proper resources to meeting them. We are determined to ensure the best possible standards are reached and applied uniformly across the country."

Tackling rape goes much wider than improving police performance and the Government is working to ensure that victims are supported throughout the entire criminal justice process. The Government has spent a total of £10 million over four years to supplement local funding, on:

* Extending the network of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (where victims receive medical care and counselling and can assist the police investigation through a forensic examination). There were five in 2001, currently there are 19 and there will be at least 36 by the end of the financial year 2008-09;

* Piloting Independent Sexual Violence Advisors in 38 areas to provide advocacy and support for victims; and

* Providing funding through the Victims Fund for voluntary organisations supporting victims of sexual violence.

NOTES

1. On 18 February 2008, The Government's Saving Lives, Reducing Harm Protecting the Public: Tackling Violence Action Plan was published - the first of its kind to focus on serious violence. It set out what the Government, together with police and local agencies, will do over the next three years to cut homicide, knife crime, gun and gang-related crime and sexual and domestic violence and included a commitment to driving forward work to improve the investigation and prosecution of rape. More details can be found at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/violent-crime-action-plan-08/

2. In addition, the Government's Public Service Agreements (PSAs) for 2008-11 include commitments to prioritise action to tackle the most serious violent and sexual offences: http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/crimereduction020.htm

Client ref 127/2008
COI ref 163147P

ENDS

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