Rape reporting data 'a starting point' for public scrutiny of case handling

Campaigners have welcomed publication of landmark figures revealing 154 child rapes reported per 100,000 people in parts of England and Wales.

An investigation by the multi-agency Rape Monitoring Group shows there were 19,316 rapes against adults, and 9,949 against children, reported to police during the year 2014/15.

In some areas, as many as 55 adults per 100,000 people told police they had been a victim of the serious sexual offence.

The latest set of figures, compiled from the more than 40 police forces in England and Wales and published by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), now present the most up-to-date picture of how rapes are dealt with across England and Wales.

Wendy Williams, RMG chairman, said: "This data provides a starting point to allow people - from the public to police and crime commissioners - to scrutinise how rape is dealt with in their area, and ask important questions of the local criminal justice services.

"Without data which allows direct comparisons, we can't see what good or bad practice currently exists and it is not possible to track the progress of individual cases of rape through the criminal justice system.

"The Rape Monitoring Group regularly reviews these digests to try to enhance the quality and quantity of the information so that the right questions can be asked.

"In the meantime this data provides a platform for further discussion."

Some 12% of reported rapes of adults in England and Wales resulted in a suspect being charged or summons being issued.

The rate is almost double when the alleged victim is a child, with 23% of reported rapes resulting in criminal action.

Sarah Green, acting director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, said: "It's very welcome that HMIC are making this data available for public scrutiny.

"If we are to increase justice for rape we need to know what is happening in terms of reporting to the police and prosecutions all over the country.

"The figures confirm what we know - rape is a very common offence.

"However, the volume of reported child rapes tells us something very serious about the predatory nature of the men who commit rape and our society's failure to protect girls and sometimes boys.

"This is a call to action for all parts of the community to stand up against the abusers and ensure there is no chance of getting away with this terrible crime."

Katie Russell, national spokeswoman for Rape Crisis England & Wales said: "Rape Crisis welcomes the Rape Monitoring Group's commitment to transparency and to enabling scrutiny of the handling of sexual offences by criminal justice agencies.

"Today's figures mirror the unprecedented level of demand we are currently experiencing for our specialist Rape Crisis services.

"It's positive that more sexual violence survivors are coming forward to seek support and justice as sexual offences are historically and still hugely under-reported in comparison to other crimes and survivors often live alone with their experiences for years before disclosing what's happened to them.

"Today's figures might also suggest a steady improvement in the way police record sexual offences, which we of course welcome.

"Whatever else this data tells us, it is a clear reminder that central Government and local commissioners need urgently to prioritise resources for the record numbers of sexual violence survivors coming forward - currently only half of our specialist Rape Crisis support and advocacy services are funded beyond March 2016."