Page last updated at 18:47 GMT, Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Rape victims: How law let us down

Victim
Only 5% of reported rapes end in a conviction
Police and prosecutors are failing to implement measures to boost the rape conviction rate, watchdogs have warned.

Women who feel they have been let down by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) contacted the BBC to tell us their stories.

C, BEDFORDSHIRE

I was the victim of a drug-facilitated rape in London last year. I was out with colleagues after a day at work. I had a few drinks and awoke in hospital the next morning with little recollection of the last 6-8 hours. I realised soon enough that I had had sex and the police were called.

At the first point of contact the police were amazing. However their level of support waned, to the point that nobody returned my calls for days.

They failed to visit the scene of the crime and gather crucial evidence
One officer even said: "We have all been out and had too much to drink and not remembered everything the next day. Just forget about it, nothing happened."

Forensic tests later proved that there was only a small trace of alcohol in my blood stream, in fact too low to grade. The police then took me more seriously, but it was too late for the investigation. They failed to visit the scene of the crime and gather crucial evidence.

They identified the rapist, but when the case got to the CPS it was refused due to lack of evidence and he walked free.

L, CHESHIRE

The man who raped me and destroyed me walked free from court with a not guilty verdict.

This was despite the fact that he had changed his story, gone on the run, admitted it to two witnesses who stood trial, lied on tape and then admitted lying. There was also forensic evidence that something had taken place.

If I ever went through it again, I would never report it
I never changed my statement once and fully complied with everything. They still said there wasn't enough proof.

The court case was worse than the rape because of the way it was handled. I was the one on trial not the rapist. I was told if I requested a screen to stop me from seeing him it would "go against me". The rapist was allowed all access to my statements and witness statements yet I couldn't see his statements.

In the trial, he was allowed to direct questions through his solicitor. It was so difficult knowing that I was being questioned by my rapist.

The CID officer that had gone through the whole thing with me from the beginning was on holiday when the trial came up, so it was passed over to someone else.

I asked him what our chances were and he said: "I don't really know as I've not really read everything yet. I'm just doing a favour for the officer that has gone away."

I feel totally let down by the system. I know one thing - if I ever went through it again, I would never report it and be subjected to that.

M, LONDON

I had my drink spiked and was raped in March last year.

During the investigation, the police officers dealing with my case were insensitive and unhelpful.

The police officers dealing with my case were insensitive and unhelpful.
They failed to call any potential witnesses and decided not to bother taking a hair sample after confirming I had Temazepam in my system three days after the event (generally it clears within 24 hours). When the man that was identified from photos denied raping me, they just dismissed the case.

I had absolutely appalling treatment and have no desire to get a conviction or pursue the investigation any further.

It's almost as though they'd given up before even starting the investigation. It makes me wonder why I bothered to report it in the first place.

S, CHESHIRE

I was raped but did not report it at the time, and the man left the country. A few years later my rapist returned to the UK and contacted me over the phone. Then I reported it.

If I had known how ineffective the police were I would not have bothered reporting it

I had to make five appointments before the police even took my statement and that of my partner. I chased them for two years but they did nothing.

Now I have changed my name and moved to Cheshire so I cannot be traced again. I feel very let down. If I had known how ineffective the police were, I would not have even bothered reporting it.

The police always say they take any allegation seriously. But the policewoman who interviewed me and my partner was taking mobile phone calls for getting tickets to a Robbie Williams concert during the interview. It was appalling.

S, WARWICKSHIRE

I was raped in 2001. I reported it to the police as soon as I got home, and they came to my house. I am also a survivor of child sexual abuse, and unfortunately the police spotted a book I'd been reading on this subject and questioned me about it.

From then on, I was repeatedly told that it was okay if I was making it up, and that they could understand, "because of what you've been through in the past - there's no shame in admitting you want attention".

Words cannot describe how angry and let down I feel by the system
That, coupled with the request that they post a CCTV picture of the man and myself just before it happened in a local newspaper meant that I told the police just to forget it, and not to investigate any further. I refused because I obviously didn't want to be identified.

I was left more frightened that I would be prosecuted for wasting police time than the likelihood of standing in court to give evidence against the rapist.

Words cannot describe how angry and let down I feel by the system.

L, MANCHESTER

I was drugged with GHB and subjected to a night-long sexual assault by a man whose name I didn't know.

I am only just now starting to recover, nearly three years on
The Crown Prosecution Service suggested to me in a letter that this man wasn't a stranger because I knew someone, who knew someone else, who knew him.

Between them, they managed to find out his phone number and where he lived in about five days. The implication was that I would have consented to sex with him because he wasn't a stranger.

I am only just now starting to recover, nearly three years on.

A psychologist diagnosed me as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. I could never have estimated the devastation rape can cause until I had been through it.

The attitudes of the police, CID, Crown Prosecution Service and forensic science service (yes, even the FSS wrote to me with an opinion on my character and that of the perpetrator) did a lot to make the ordeal more painful.


SEE ALSO
Are rapists getting away with it?
31 Jan 07 |  Magazine

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