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Rape offences recorded by police increase to new annual high

Dame Vera Baird said most worrying was Home Office data showing 30 per cent of victims withdrew reports of rape within three months, suggesting their experience had been so bad and traumatic that they could not go through with the prosecution.

There were 63,136 rapes recorded in the year to September, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), up 13 per cent from the previous period (56,119).

This was the highest recorded annual figure to date and included 17,419 offences between July and September – the highest quarterly figure.

The highest number of sexual offences was also recorded in the 12 months to September (170,973), a 12 per cent increase compared to 152,620 in the same period the previous year.

Rape accounted for 37 per cent of all sexual offences recorded by police.

Home Office figures show that even among the 63,000 who reported their rape, more than 40 per cent withdrew from the prosecution before it was complete.

Responding to the latest data, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, said:

“There is no escaping the numbers: record highs in reported rapes and sexual assaults and charging rates so low as to be barely discernible. This is of grave concern and a depressingly familiar story.

“Much as we hope each year to finally witness the green shoots of a recovery, we are once again faced with the crushing reality that the criminal justice system is continuing to fail rape victims in ever-increasing numbers.

“Alarming statistics today reveal that 41% of rape victims are withdrawing their support for action. Worse still, almost a third (30%) are backing out within the first three months of the offence being recorded. For so many victims to have built up the immense courage to report only to withdraw within a matter of weeks is deeply worrying and suggests the situation is worsening, some 7 months after the government’s Rape Review promised to set things straight.

“I remain very concerned that few victims will stay the course. Rape victims are being subjected to endless, endemic delays. Of the dismally few who secure a charging decision in their case, almost a quarter (24%) face delays of more than a year. We know that the stress and uncertainty is driving many to drop their claims altogether.

“The nationwide roll-out of pre-recorded evidence and cross-examination in rape cases (Section 28) has been promised – and it will make a difference. But it must now be implemented in weeks and months, not years.”

Editors’ Notes: