Nearly 1,000 rape investigations were dropped in South Yorkshire last year

A high level meeting will be held to find and address cracks that allow 95 per cent of rape reports in South Yorkshire to go without anyone being charged.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 9:08 am
Just a fraction of rape investigations in South Yorkshire resulted in someone being charged last year, new figures reveal. (Picture for illustration purposes only)

Home Office figures published from an end-to-end Government review of sex crimes has revealed how thousands of people nationally do not see justice when they report allegations of rape – and South Yorkshire is no different.

South Yorkshire Police concluded 1,298 rape investigations, where the alleged victim was female, in the year to March.

Of those, 1,105 – or nine of 10 – were dropped due to difficulties gathering evidence or because a suspect could not be identified.

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Dr Alan Billings, police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire.

In fact, just seven per cent of all sex offence investigations in 2020-21 resulted in someone being charged.

Now, a senior-level meeting has been called in South Yorkshire to address issues and find what is going wrong.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said: “The low figures for both charging and conviction in rape cases is a cause of concern nationally as well as in South Yorkshire. We need to understand why this should be.

"As a result I am doing two things. First, I have asked my staff to look at the journey through the criminal justice system taken by rape victims, so we can get a better understanding of where and why things may not go as well as they should.

“Second, I am calling together a round table of agencies and organisations in the autumn to pool our experiences with a view to seeing improvements. This will include the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, Probation, victims and those voluntary bodies who work with victims.

“My own view is that among many other things we need police and prosecutors to focus as much on the alleged rapist as the victim, since so many of those who are found guilty of serious sexual offences turn out to have a pre-history.”

Recent cases include a woman who was raped in Endcliffe Park, Ecclesall, on March 29. No arrests have been made after over four months.

Detective Chief Inspector Emma Knight of South Yorkshire Police said: “Sexual offences have a devastating impact on the victim both in the short term immediately following an attack and then in the weeks, months and years that follow as they attempt to move on with their lives. We acknowledge that charge and conviction rates are low locally, regionally and nationally which we understand is a concern for survivors, their families and the public.

"We are working extremely hard with criminal justice partners and commissioned services [...] in order to provide the best possible support and service to victims, recover evidence and maximise opportunities to bring offenders to justice.

"We recognise that for victims reporting rape or other serious sexual offences may be one of the hardest things they have ever had to do. We want to reassure those victims that if and when they are ready to speak to us, they will treated with compassion by investigators committed to meeting their needs and targeting the perpetrators of this most heinous crime.

“Whilst we understand that some survivors of rape may not initially feel ready to speak to the police they can still obtain support and advice from the Sexual Assault Referral Centre and ISVA service.”