Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Rise in rape convictions welcomed

Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, says achieving justice for female victims of violence is a key priority

The number of successful convictions of defendants charged with rape has continued to rise, prosecutors have said.

Figures released by the Crown Prosecution Service showed that 63.2% of cases where someone was either charged with rape or the police had initially flagged up the offence as rape resulted in a conviction in 2012/13, up from 62.5% the previous year.

The cases mainly resulted in rape convictions, but also included cases where the defendant was convicted of an alternative sexual offence, homicide or offences against the person.

Previously released Government figures have shown that only a fraction of the thousands of men and women who are victims of sexual crimes each year report what has happened to police.

Around 473,000 women and men are sexually assaulted each year, with one in 20 women reported as being a victim of a serious sexual offence.

But only 54,000 sexual offences are recorded by police on average each 12 months, which it has been claimed is partly because victims are reluctant to come forward.

The conviction rate for domestic violence was also up by 1% to 74% in 2012/13.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said: "Conviction rates for rape and domestic violence are at an all-time high.

"For victims of these appalling crimes, the message is clear: you can have confidence that the criminal justice system is getting better and better at prosecuting these offences and if your case is charged there is now a very strong chance that your attacker will be convicted. Offenders too should be warned.

"However there is clearly more work to do. Violence against women and girls is a key priority for the CPS, and we continue to monitor our progress on these types of cases very closely to ensure we continue to improve our performance."

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