Page last updated at 10:24 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 11:24 UK

Rape convictions falling in Wales

Woman in despair (generic image)
Conviction rates for rape in south Wales have fallen by more than half

The number of convictions in rape cases has fallen in Wales at the same time as it has risen in England, according to new figures.

Statistics published by equality pressure group the Fawcett Society show the conviction rate has dropped in all four Welsh police force areas.

In Dyfed-Powys, there is a less than one in 30 chance of a rape conviction.

Last week, three AMs anonymously revealed they had been raped but had not reported the crime to the police.

The rape reporting figures relate to the 2004-2006 period and were obtained by the Fawcett Society following a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice.

Some senior police officers admit there is a culture of disbelief around rape in many police forces
Sarah Campbell, Fawcett Society
All four Welsh forces had a conviction rate below the UK average of 6.1%.

South Wales Police saw the second biggest fall in conviction rates in the UK, down from 12.18% in 2004 to 5.9% in 2006.

There were wide regional variations across the forces in England in the 2006 figures, ranging from 2.8% in Leicestershire to 13.2% in Cleveland.

Sarah Campbell from the Fawcett Society said in areas where there had been a big rise in convictions, there had been a big effort to train officers, carry out better evidence collection and provide better support for women who report rape.

The society wants to see best practice repeated across the UK.

'Concerted effort'

Ms Campbell said: "I think what we find very worrying is that a woman who reports a rape in Wales has a very low chance of getting a conviction.

"That's completely unacceptable and it doesn't make any kind of sense that if you report a rape in one area, you get a better service than you would in another.

We have to look at the whole of society - court services, the Criminal Prosecution Service, and we have to look at jurors as well
John Trew, Victim Support

"These figures were so low already and they actually dropped. We need a concerted effort to improve the situation."

Ms Campbell said more needed to be done in the early stages of an investigation to collect all the available forensic evidence.

"Cases aren't taken seriously enough. Often women aren't given a high enough standard of care," she said.

"Some senior police officers admit there is a culture of disbelief around rape in many police forces - stereotypical attitudes do prevail.

"I think a lot needs to be done to change that culture."

John Trew of Victim Support Cymru called the figures "shocking", adding: "One of the most serious crimes has a conviction rate of 3% [in some areas].

"Imagine if armed robbery or murder had the same rate. It would just not be tolerated."

However, he said it was not fair to blame only the police.

"We have to look at the whole of society - court services, the Criminal Prosecution Service, and we have to look at jurors as well."

Alexander Greenwood, a barrister who has defended many rape cases, said in his experience police were rigorous and vigilant in gathering evidence, and particularly praised officers in south Wales.




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