Friday, 6 November 2015

Increase in Rape Victims Reporting Offences in Northamptonshire but Conviction Rates Remain Low

On the 05 November 2015, (HMIC) published new reports drafted by the Rape Monitoring Group. These reports compile data on adult and child rapes reported to each police force last year, 2014/2015. The reports have conveniently been broken down to disclose the data and statistics of rapes reported to each police force across England and Wales. This data has been helpfully separated into adult and child rapes and includes data from the Police, Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) and Ministry of Justice. It is broken down as follows:

Police-Recorded Data on Rape
Number of recorded rapes;
Number of rape reports later reclassified as no crimes;
How many reports lead to a suspect being charged with rape.

Data from the CPS
Number of cases referred to the (CPS) by the police
force for a decision on whether or not to charge with rape;
How many defendants were subsequently charged with committing rape;
How many people were prosecuted for committing a rape offence;
How many defendants were convicted.

Data from the Ministry of Justice
Number of prosecutions & convictions;
Time taken to complete proceedings, from date charged;
Average custodial sentences upon conviction.

You can find the report for Northamptonshire Police here. If you wish to compare this data with other Police Forces across England and Wales you can find the data for the Police Force of your choice here.

The reports disclosed that Northamptonshire Police had the 3rd highest number of rapes reported during a 12 month period in 2014/2015. Unsurprisingly for its condensed population, London had the highest number of rapes reported. Hampshire had the second highest number of rapes being reported. 
The fact that Northamptonshire Police Force has the 3rd highest number of rapes reported last year could be a positive sign of victims in the local community having trust and confidence in the local police. This was suggested in an article published this morning by Northampton Herald and PostDetective Superintendent Steve Lingley stated that:

"The rise in recorded rape offences in Northamptonshire is recognised by all agencies in the county as a mark of the increased confidence of victims to come forward, including victims of historic sexual offences, so we are not surprised to see an increase.

During the past year, Northamptonshire Police recorded 289 adult rapes and 138 child rapes, totalling 427 victims. In comparison, the City of London Police recorded an astronomical 3,742 adult victims of rape and 1,337 child victims. These figures are more than 10x higher than the reports recorded by Northamptonshire Police.

Below is a table comparing the population and reported number of rapes from Northamptonshire, Hampshire and City of London Police Forces.

Population and Rapes Reported

Data from 2014/2015
City of London
320,000 + additional 320,000 tourists/workers
Adult rapes reported
Child rapes reported
Total reported

At first glance of the figures released I am proud to live in a country where victims have the courage to come forward and seek justice and prevent future victims. It takes allot of courage for rape victims to report such traumatic and personal incidents. These victims should be praised for seeking justice and preventing their rapists from destroying additional potential victims lives. The increase in the number of rapes reported in Northamptonshire is a positive indication of the local communities trust in supporting rape victims. However, I hope that this data is not a reflection of Northamptonshire being a hotspot for rape crime. I am concerned that this is not something the local police or media have contemplated when discussing these statistics today. Nevertheless, I will consider whether this could be a concern in a future blog to avoid going off track today. 

When comparing data between the three forces, I discovered that Hampshire had the highest number of referrals to the CPS at nearly 20%. Unfortunately, Northampton Police Force had the lowest referral rate of the three forces at less than 14 %. This lead to Hampshire Police having a slightly higher charge rate which unsurprisingly appears to have resulted in a slightly higher prosecution rate in Hampshire. However, the % of cases reported that lead to charges or a prosecution were very similar between Northamptonshire and City of London. 

(This data can be compared in the table I have compiled below. )

 Comparing Outcomes of Rape Crimes Reported

Data from 2014/2015
City of London

No                           %
No                            %
No                            %
Refereed to CPS
58                       13.55
239                       19.50
791                       15.57
40                         9.35
122                       10.18
482                        9.49
43                       10.05
144                       12.02
550                       10.83
11                         2.57
15                          1.25
188                        3.70

(% of reported rapes to that police force during 2014/2015)

When I analysed the data for prosecutions and convictions, I was disappointed to see that only 11 rape reports lead to a conviction in Northamptonshire, in 2014/2015. That means more than 97% of rape victims who report their traumatic attacks do not secure justice. These statistics are devastating when you take into consideration the number of victims you could add to these statistics who fail to report rape for various reasons. The successful conviction rate in Hampshire is even more concerning considering their conviction rates represent only 1.25% of the incidents reported. The City of London Police has the highest successful conviction rate between the three forces at 3.7%.

While Northamptonshire Police force should be pleased that they have one of the highest report rates in the country I do feel that they need to look into ways that they can contribute to securing higher conviction rates in order to protect the local community. Without a doubt, none of the police forces are solely responsible for these horrendous conviction rates. In fact, I am sure that this data is disheartening for officers who work hard to identify suspects and obtain evidence with the objective of protecting the public. Nevertheless, this data must not be ignored. 

A successful conviction rate of less that 3% means that more than 97% of rape victims are being let down. You may be wondering why I have reached a calculation of 97% of victims when we live in a State where you are rightfully 'innocent until proven guilty'. Nevertheless, regardless of whether all reports are honest and whether the correct person has been investigated you can still be sure that the number of victims let down by the legal system remains the same. For every rape incident truthfully reported that does not result in a conviction there will be a victim unable to draw closure on their distressing attack. For every dishonest report made that leads to an innocent suspect wrongfully being accused of rape, there will be a victim whose reputation is destroyed for the rest of their life with serious consequences. Either way, these victims deserve more!  

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week 2015

In celebration of National Pro Bono week 2015, I have drafted a blog discussing my volunteering experiences. The blog was published in 2 parts on the LawBore website, in partnership with City University. As a BPTC student at City Law School and winner of the Volunteer of the Year award 2015 I hope that these blogs will inspire other law students to volunteer in their local community.

You can read part 1 of the blog here.
You can read part 2 of the blog here.

I hope that these blogs inspire other law students to volunteer in their local community and benefit from the rewards of supporting those most in need.

Offering pro bono services can aid the local community in many ways. This can include:

  • Enabling people in poverty to have access to legal advice or alternative key service that they would not otherwise be able to access due to lack of finances;
  • Preventing the most vulnerable from having their rights infringed;
  • Improve the standard of service offered to clients. You may find that you can offer skills that other members of the team do not have. Particularly if you offer your services for a project with less legal influence. (Remember to provide your unique and more advanced skills, sensitively without behaving like a 'know it all'.Remember they will also have knowledge or skills that you do not possess!)
  • Improves the reputation of the legal profession within the local community.

Conducting pro bono can also have benefits for the person donating their time and skills. This can include:

  • Putting your academic skills into practice in a professional environment;
  • Building confidence in communicating with real clients and colleagues;
  • Opportunities to create new professional contacts with fellow volunteers and other professionals that you may be interacting with; 
  • Developing your commercial awareness;
  • Provides you with a guilt-free escape from your studies;
  • Opportunity to feel like you are making a difference;
  • Understanding the effects of funding cuts to legal aid, Local Authorities, Community Projects, etc. It is not until you are working in an environment where you are faced with the consequences of funding cuts, that you can appreciate the adverse effect that these cuts are having on people most in need of support;
  • Unlock new career opportunities including more advanced pro bono work and paid employment;
  • Increase the different scholarships available to you. There are some scholarships and other awards specifically aimed at applicants who have made a positive change within their local community or the legal system etc. For example my previous dedication to volunteering enabled me to stand out when applying for the Rosie Keane Memorial Scholarship. Consequently, I was awarded this scholarship worth £5,000 off my BPTC tuition fees in 2014;
  • Building new friendships and being an active part of your local community;
  • Make a difference where it is most needed;
  • Opportunities to participate in free training workshops;
  • If you are a visual or practical learner, it may improve your understanding of a topic covered in your studies, depending on what role you decide to volunteer in.

You will find further information about some of my volunteering experiences in other posts on my blog. 

The Law Society have an area on their website dedicated to Pro Bono facts and statistics.