ACPO comment on rape figures

Published on Friday, 09 September 2011 12:42
Posted by Scott Buckler

Commenting on figures on the investigation of rape in England and Wales,ACPO lead for rape and serious sexual offences, Chief Constable Dave Whatton, said

“One of the most difficult offences police and prosecutors deal with is rape. Not only are the investigations complex, but understanding the true nature and extent of rape is difficult, because academic research shows that the incidence of this offence is underreported.

“Figures and statistics without context can never give the whole picture on how we manage and investigate rape across the criminal justice system. Baroness Stern in her review of how rape complaints are handled made clear recommendations about the complex nature of rape statistics. Her view was that they should always be accompanied by enough explanation and context so that their meaning and the conclusions that can, and cannot, be drawn are understood.

“For example, when confidence grows in a police force’s ability to investigate rape, there may be an upsurge in the reporting of historical cases. Due to the time elapsed, these cases can be more difficult to prosecute and this will impact upon what the statistics can tell us in terms of that particular police force’s approach to the crime.

“Under the localism agenda, the focus has been to move away from centrally set performance targets for the police, emphasising instead on the local police force making themselves accountable to their public. This will be achieved by working together to better serve the needs of local communities.

“In recent years we have made significant advances in the way we approach investigation of this difficult offence. The creation of specialised teams within forces is seen as a real step forward and has been met with positive feedback from both victims and partner agencies. What is of utmost importance is that victims of rape have confidence to report such crimes as well as having confidence that any allegation will be dealt with properly, sensitively and robustly by the police.”

Source: ACPO

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