Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rapists' Victims See Little Justice

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rapists' Victims See Little Justice

Article excerpt

Hundreds of rape victims in the North face the additional trauma of knowing their attackers will never be brought to justice, it was claimed yesterday.

Only a tiny percentage of rapes reported to police in the region make it to court and still fewer result in conviction.

And for every rape reported to the police, another seven go unreported, according to British Crime Survey figures.

A shocking 93pc of victims who turn to Rape Crisis support groups never go to the police, leaving attackers free to strike again. Changes in the law and innovations in police practice and forensic evidence-gathering are expected to help but many victims are still put off by the perceived ordeal of taking their case to court and the belief that "you never win rape cases".

Jackie Clark, who manages support group Reach, said a third of the 350 victims who turned to its centres in Sunderland and Jesmond had not reported their experiences to the police.

She said: "A lot of women are put off by fear of the criminal justice system and the fear that no-one will believe them.

"Unreported rape is a huge hidden problem and we are working with the police and other agencies to address it. If victims aren't reporting rapes, people get away with it and they will continue to do it." She hailed changes to the Criminal Justice Bill, which is due to come into force in May, as a vital step forward.

She said: "The new Bill will put the onus on the defendant to prove they took steps to ensure they had consent. It could give victims more confidence that they'll get a conviction, which would encourage more victims to come forward."

And even when a victim does report the crime, only a tiny fraction make it to the courts.

In the year 2002, 313 rapes were reported to Northumbria Police but Northumbria Crown Prosecution Service only took 29 cases to court between June 2002 and May 2003.

Of those, 14 pleaded guilty, six were found guilty by a jury, six were acquitted and three cases were dropped. …

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