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Volume 109: debated on Saturday 2 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the number of rape offences reported to the police in 1984, 1985 and 1986 by police force area; and if he will also list the percentage clear-up rate for offences of rape.

The available information is on the number of offences of rape recorded by each police force and is published annually in "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales, Supplementary Tables" (table S.3.1 in volume 3 of the issue for 1985). Figures for 1986 are not yet available. The clear-up rate for rape in England and Wales was 67 per cent. in 1983, 68 per cent. in 1984 and 64 per cent. in 1985. Part of the fall in 1985 is attributable to changes in police recording practice, resulting in an increasing proportion of the cases reported being recorded as offences. Clear-up rates for individual forces are based on small numbers and so are subject to wide variation and may be misleading.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to provide for statutory minimum imprisonment sentences in cases of convictions for rape; and if he will make a statement.

Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the courts. It is a fundamental principle of our criminal justice system that they should be able, in sentencing, to take account of the particular circumstances of each offence and offender. Even with a uniquely despicable offence like rape there can be many variable factors which make it impossible to prescribe by a minimum sentence which would he just in every case. I think it better to rely on the Court of Appeal's ability to lay down guidelines for the Crown Court to follow, and on the Government's proposals in clause 29 of the Criminal Justice Bill.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people in each of the last 10 years, having served a sentence of imprisonment for rape, were subsequently convicted for a further offence of rape or sexual assault; and if he will make a statement.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to a question from the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) on 16 December 1986 at columns 481–82.