Today (29th August 2019) the Rape Monitoring Group (RMG) has released their latest figures on the reporting of rapes in England and Wales. At Welsh Women’s Aid we are alarmed to see that the number of rape charges in Wales and England have decreased, despite an increase in the amount of rapes reported.
The multi-agency Rape Monitoring Group which is coordinated by the HMICRFS was established in 2007 to promote improvements in response to rape across the criminal justice system. Their report which was launched today show how cases of rape in 2017/18 were dealt with at all stages throughout the criminal justice system.
We are alarmed to see that the overall charge rate has decreased from 6.8% to 4.2%, yet the number of reporting’s of rape has increased from 41,185 in 2016-17 to 54,045 in 2017-18. The data for police forces across Wales show no significant different trend in Wales.
Gwendolyn Sterk, Head of Public Affairs and Communication at Welsh Women’s Aid says,
“The increase in reporting’s of rape in England and Wales suggests more survivors are coming forward, and feel confident to report and to seek justice, even though the reality is that obtaining a conviction in cases of rape is still rare.
The consequences of reporting rape and of going through the criminal justice system are significant. Survivors have spoken to us about the re-traumatising experience of reporting rape and sexual assault to the police and going through the subsequent investigation and court processes. There are still widespread assumptions, judgements and victim-blaming attitudes held by members of the public around consent, what rape involves and how victims should respond, and these views will also be represented amongst some in the criminal justice system and those who make up juries too.
This year we have also seen a rise in requests from the Police and Crown Prosecution Service asking survivors to download the contents of their mobile phones including emails, messages and photographs. We know that this can deter survivors in taking cases forward, as they can feel scrutinised from having their private lives looked through, which can make survivors be made to feel like they are the suspects.
It is crucial that survivors can have enough confidence in the criminal justice system to come forward to report rape in the first place, knowing they will be believed and supported throughout the criminal justice process and without the fear of being labelled, blamed or judged. Otherwise we will continue to see fewer rape convictions, fewer rapists being held to account for their crimes, and ultimately fewer survivors seeking, and finding, justice.
Survivors of rape need support to ensure they feel able to talk about their experience in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Dedicated rape crisis and sexual violence services provide support through the legal process, should individuals choose to report as well as a range of counselling and therapeutic support regardless of whether someone reports or not. However due to significant increases in the demand on services, and the continued limited funding for specialist services, survivors are often placed on waiting lists whilst capacity for support becomes available. Our sexual violence member services supported over 1300 survivors of sexual violence in 2018-19.”
Whatever the outcome of a court case, or regardless of whether a person is ready to report to the police, someone who has been raped or sexually abused need to know there is help and support available. We would encourage anyone in Wales who feel they’ve been raped or sexually abused, whether or not they feel able to report this, to contact the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or webchat www.livefearfree.gov.wales. The Helpline provides 24-hours, confidential help and support every day of the year and can put people in touch with local specialist services where this is needed.
Notes to Editors:
- For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Gwendolyn Sterk at Welsh Women’s Aid on 02920541551 or email [email protected].
- Welsh Women’s Aid is the lead national organisation in Wales, providing the voice of local services and survivors to government as well as campaigning, influencing policy and practice, and innovating to end domestic abuse and violence against women across Wales and the UK. More information is available at www.welshwomensaid.org.uk
- To donate £3 to Welsh Women’s Aid to enable us continue our work to end violence against women and children in Wales please text ’EVAW15 £3’ to 70070. To donate or fundraise to help us continue our work, see our Just Giving Page https://www.justgiving.com/welshwomensaid-wwa
- Anyone affected by violence against women, domestic abuse or sexual violence in Wales can contact Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or www.livefearfree.gov.wales for 24/7 confidential information and support.