Majority of rape offences do not result in arrest

Rape prosecution low in Hackney Pic: Keith Allison

Rape prosecution low in Hackney Pic: Keith Allison

Two thirds of rape offences in Hackney are not followed by prosecution, a recent freedom of information request has revealed.

Police figures from Hackney show that between 2010 and 2012, 189 arrests for rape were made but only 130 of them resulted in no further action being taken.

Of the 59 cases that were followed up, six resulted in a police caution for the perpetrators of the crimes with no one being sentenced.

In the same time period, 253 people were arrested for sexual offences. 121 cases resulted in no further action and 12 offenders received a police caution.

This information comes shortly after the revelation of a 10.4 per cent rise in rape cases reported to the police in Hackney from October 2012 to October 2013.

In response to the figures, Hackney’s deputy Mayor, Labour Councillor Sophie Linden, said: “Low conviction rates for rape and sexual offences are a national issue and recognised as an area of concern. There are many reasons why a police arrest may not result in a prosecution and this is something that needs to be looked at.”

On a national level, only six per cent of rape arrests lead to conviction and the evidential threshold for prosecution remains high. For example, if no witnesses were present at the scene, it is difficult for the case to go to court.

Jodie Woodward, head of operations for East London charity Nia Ending Violence, which aims to end violence against women and children, said: “Hackney prosecution figures are really worrying because they will act as a deterrent for women coming forward to the police.”

Woodward added: “Hackney is a borough with high levels of reported sexual violence and the recent increase in the number of reported rapes shows that people’s faith in the police and criminal justice system is growing. Therefore it is very worrying that they are not following through with prosecutions.”

Woodward also said: “Police cautions are not acceptable outcomes for rape cases, cautioning can put other woman under potential risk.”

A spokesperson from the police in Hackney said the Metropolitan Police are working hard to arrest and convict as many rapists as possible.

The spokesperson also described the dedicated special police unit: “The primary role of Sapphire Unit is the investigation of rapes and other serious sexual violence, with not only an emphasis to arrest and prosecute the perpetrator and investigate the offence to the satisfaction of victim, but just as importantly, on the care and support of victims of these crimes.”

The charity runs an independent sexual violence advisory service in Hackney to provide support for victims of rape.

Woodward said: “We currently have a long waiting list. Lots of people need to access our support because although there have been lots of improvements with the police, the process of reporting a rape is still very traumatic for many women.”

She added that 80-85 per cent of rape cases go unreported and therefore many rape cases are not included in police figures.

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