New data on child rapes released
Fewer than one in three recorded child rapes results in a charge or summons, data released by police inspectors has shown.
A total of 7,775 child rapes were recorded in 2013/14, of which 2,306 or 30% led to a charge or summons, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said.
Out of 12,952 adult rapes recorded in the same period, 2,186 or 20% led to charge or summons.
The total number of adult and child rapes has also increased over the last five years.
Recorded adult attacks rose 38% from 9,383 in 2009/10, while child rape was up 37% from 5,674.
HMIC pubished the data on behalf of the Rape Monitoring Group (RMG), which has provided a regional breakdown of rape statistics for all forces excluding the City of London Police.
Chair of the Rape Monitoring Group, Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary Dru Sharpling said: "The Rape Monitoring Group's intention in compiling these digests is to prompt scrutiny of how each local area deals with rape.
"Accurate and extensive data enable those working with rape cases to improve opportunities to identify and bring to justice perpetrators of rape, and to ensure that victims are effectively supported and defendants receive a fair trial.
"However, because the data contained within the digests are collected by different organisations, it is impossible to track the progress of individual cases of rape through the criminal justice system.
"The Rape Monitoring Group is committed to working with criminal justice agencies to collect data on rape that puts the progress of the case at the heart of the process in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, as well as servicing the sometimes separate needs of its disparate parts.
"In the absence of a more comprehensive means of understanding the responses to rape offending, these digests provide a good starting point."
The RMG is made up of representatives from the Association of Chief Police Officers, College of Policing, Crown Prosecution Service, Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, Home Office, local policing bodies, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, Ministry of Justice and voluntary sector partners.
College of Policing lead for crime and criminal justice Dave Tucker said: "The College, which is a member of the Rape Monitoring Group, received hundreds of responses to its consultation on rape and sexual offences as part of its work to develop Authorised Professional Practice (APP).
"Guidance on investigating and prosecuting rape is already available to police and the new APP will be published this summer.
"The group has acknowledged the importance of accurate recording of sexual offences and the college has developed a national training and accreditation package for force crime registrars to ensure a more consistent approach to crime recording.
"The accreditation regime includes an ongoing review and evaluation of training of those responsible for recording crime in forces.
"It will also include a register of those crime registrars who are accredited to the national standard."
Paul Ford, secretary of the Police Federation National Detectives' Forum, said: "We welcome this report as it helps improve understanding of the picture of reporting and recording of rape.
"The Police Federation of England and Wales has long been a supporter of the work of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and the College of Policing on improving standards.
"This work must be used to help improve the level of service that victims receive and to improve confidence in reporting the crime.
"Policing is under significant pressure through budget cuts and this is having an impact on the level of service that policing can provide to victims.
"Detectives have raised significant concerns on the levels of victim care that officers are able to offer and this is of huge concern.
"This demonstrates again that cuts have consequences."
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: " These figures are extremely disturbing and a shocking indictment of the widening justice gap created by this Government.
"Over the last four years, there has been a dire trend in recorded incidents of rape going up, but prosecutions and convictions going down. This report is the latest evidence of this appalling state of affairs.
"Rape and the sexual abuse of a child - are some of the most abhorrent and heinous crimes. And victims deserve justice.
"The police have been saying for some time that they are dealing with an increasing number of these horrific cases and that, in some areas, they are overwhelmed by the level of child sexual exploitation.
"Almost 17,000 police officers have been cut since 2010 and specialist units with expertise in sexual offences have been disbanded as officers are deployed in more general roles. And the Tories' extreme plans would mean cutting 30,000 more police officers in the next parliament.
"They have no plan to support police to deal with the increase in these terrible crimes. Today's figures should act as a warning to Theresa May - there are consequences to the decisions she has made as Home Secretary and the justice gap for rape victims is just one of them."
Responding to the figures, crime prevention minister Lynne Featherstone said: " The coalition Government is clear that every report of rape must be taken seriously, every victim must be treated with dignity and every investigation must be conducted thoroughly and professionally.
"The increase in the number of rapes being reported to police is encouraging as it shows more victims are finding the courage to come forward. We are also seeing year-on-year falls in the 'no crime' rate for rape, increases in the volume of prosecutions and longer sentences for rapists.
"Transparency and accountability have an important role to play in improving victims' confidence in the system.
"Police forces and PCCs (police and crime commissioners) can use this Rape Monitoring Group data to monitor their performance and drive further improvements so that more victims come forward and more perpetrators are brought to justice."