Suspect charged in only one in 11 of North East rape cases

Just one in 11 rape allegations end in a charge in the North East
Just one in 11 rape allegations end in a charge in the North East

Just one in every 11 rape cases reported in Northumbria end with a suspect being charged, new figures show.

While the rate is better than that for crime overall in the area, sexual violence charity Rape Crisis say that the justice system is “failing victims and survivors of rape”.

Between April and June this year, 232 rape cases were closed by Northumbria Police. Of those, just 21 resulted in a suspect being charged or ordered to appear in court.

Charges were less likely for rape than other sexual offences in Northumbria, for which 10% of the 557 cases reported resulted in a suspect being charged.

For other cases of violence against the person, 12% resulted in a charge.

In nearly half of rape reports, the case was closed because of lack of evidence, with the victim unwilling to support further police action.

Across England and Wales, a suspect was charged in 4% of rape cases and 8% of other sexual offences.

Katie Russell, of Rape Crisis England and Wales, said: “These figures are extremely concerning, but reflect what we already know: that the criminal justice system is currently failing victims and survivors of rape, sexual abuse and all forms of sexual violence.

“Despite record numbers of people who’ve experienced these serious offences coming forward to report to the police, criminal justice outcomes are lagging far behind those for other violent crimes.

“A complete overhaul of the criminal justice system in relation to sexual offences is long overdue.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for adult sex offences and rape, Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, said: “The police service response to the investigation of rape and sexual assault is constantly evolving.

“Significant improvements in the specialist training of officers, greater access to sexual assault referral centres, and improved crime recording practices are all aimed at supporting those who take the brave step in coming forward and improving the service they receive.”

A spokeswoman for the CPS said: “Rape is an extremely serious offence and there are specific challenges in prosecuting it.

“Offences typically happen in private with no witnesses and forensic evidence can often only help establish that sexual contact took place. Cases may be complicated if the people know each other, have communicated frequently by phone or social media and if drugs and alcohol are involved.

“We have worked hard in recent years to improve how we deal with rape. We’ve almost doubled the number of specialist prosecutors and trained them in understanding victim vulnerabilities, the impact of rape and issues around consent, myths and stereotypes. “