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!  

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