Just five per cent of rape investigations in South Yorkshire result in a charge

Just a fraction of rape investigations in South Yorkshire resulted in someone being charged last year, new figures reveal.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 1:22 pm

It comes as the Government launches a new strategy aimed at tackling violence against women and girls, which includes a focus on prevention and improving the criminal justice response to offences that disproportionately affect women.

A consultation into the plan was reopened following the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in London earlier this year, which reignited a national debate around women's safety.

Home Office figures reveal South Yorkshire Police concluded 1,298 rape investigations, where the alleged victim was female, in the year to March, but only 70 – five per cent – resulted in a charge or summons.

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New figures have been released about rapes in South Yorkshire

The force dropped 988 investigations – 76 per cent – due to difficulties gathering evidence and 117 cases – nine per cent – because a suspect could not be identified.

Low charge rates are seen across reports of sexual offences as a whole. South Yorkshire Police charged a suspect in a sex offence case 275 times in 2020-21, equating to just seven per cent of investigations closed over the period.

Although these figures include offences against both men and women, separate data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in the majority of recorded sexual offences nationally, the victim is female.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently apologised to rape victims across the country for the trauma and delays they have faced in securing justice, as the Government published its end-to-end rape review to tackle a decreasing conviction rate.

The Victim's Commissioner Vera Baird slammed the “shameful” record, which she branded a “decriminalisation of rape”.

Across England and Wales, 2,742 rape reports to police forces by women ended with a suspect being charged or summoned to court in 2020-21 – just 5.3 per cent of the 51,667 investigations assigned an outcome last year.

The measures set to be introduced by the Government's VAWG strategy include a 24/7 rape and sexual assault helpline, a review of the management of registered sex offenders and a £5 million Safety of Women at Night fund.

The Government has also said it will not rule out making public street harassment, such as wolf whistling and cat-calling, a specific crime.

The Home Office figures show few harassment crimes reported to South Yorkshire Police resulted in a charge or summons last year – 515 or seven per cent of 7,697 concluded investigations.

That was largely in line with the average across England and Wales, where just 6.5 per cent of harassment investigations saw someone charged or summoned to court.

The figures include all types of harassment incidents reported by men and women, including online offences.

Charity Victim Support said only a societal change will end crimes against women.

Rachel Almeida said: “It is vital there is a shift from the victim blaming culture and poor police treatment for victims that has contributed to dismal justice outcomes for the majority of survivors.

“Much more needs to be done to address the epidemic of offending against women and girls.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I am determined to give the police the powers they need to crack down on perpetrators and carry out their duties to protect the public whilst providing victims with the care and support they deserve.”