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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
'One in 20' women raped
A graph showing the level of sexual crime against women in the UK
One in 20 women in England and Wales has been the victim of rape, according to Home Office statistics.

The new figures suggest 167 women are raped every day, but only one in five attacks is reported to the police.


We have all seen the way rape victims are treated in court - it is not part of the healing process

Sandra McNeill
Rape Crisis Federation
The government has launched a 13-point action plan to try to encourage more women to report the crimes and make prosecution easier.

Currently only one in 13 cases ends with a conviction.

"Rape is an abhorrent crime which deeply affects the lives of its victims and the decline in the rate of convictions has been unequivocal and worrying," said Home Office Minister John Denham.

"The government is determined to face up to this issue and act to turn round the low reporting and conviction rates for rape."

The government's new measures include specialist rape case prosecutors, a review of training for police officers who deal with rape victims, and a review of the training for prosecutors on cases involving rape and sexual offences.

They also propose seeking a second opinion from a specialist prosecution service lawyer on all decisions to drop a rape case or to reduce charges.

The measures are long over-due, says the Rape Crisis Federation, which takes 50,000 calls a year from victims.

Spokeswoman Sandra McNeill said the number of women raped was probably "much higher" than the crime survey found and that more like only one in eight victims report the assaults to police.

Violent partners

"We have all seen the way rape victims are treated in court - it is not part of the healing process," she said.

"The police and Crime Prosecution Service have to build up expertise to deal with rape cases and victims need more support."

The federation called on the government to establish a timetable for the implementation of its new measures.

The new figures were taken from a survey of 7,000 women conducted for the British Crime Survey.

It found that of the rapes, 56% were committed by current or former partners, while only 8% were carried out by strangers.

More than half the assaults took place in the victim's home and those committed by partners were more violent than those at the hands of strangers.


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The BBC's Richard Bilton:
"Nationally there is a problem - people don't come forward to report attacks"
See also:

18 Jul 02 | Wales
08 Jun 00 | Scotland
19 Jul 02 | Scotland
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