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Sexual Offences

Volume 463: debated on Monday 23 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 5 July 2007, Official Report, column 1175W, on sexual offences, how many and what percentage of allegations of rape made to the police in each of the last three years were later withdrawn by the individual; how many and what percentage of cases referred to the Public Prosecution Service subsequently failed to result in a prosecution for lack of evidence; and how many and what percentage of cases brought to prosecution resulted in conviction. (149029)

Figures relating to the percentage of rape allegations which are withdrawn by the individual are not recorded in the format requested.

The Public Prosecution Service have advised that the number of persons reported for an offence of rape who were not prosecuted because the available evidence was not sufficient to pass the test for prosecution is as follows:

2004: 29 (35 per cent.) out of 83 persons;

2005: 90 (66 per cent.) out of 136 persons;

2006: 136 (79 per cent.) out of 172 persons.

The number of persons directed for prosecution for rape or some other related offence and whose trial concluded with a conviction for at least one offence (whether of rape or of some other related offence) is as follows:

2004: 27 (61 per cent.) out of 44 persons;

2005: 17 (63 per cent.) out of 27 persons;

2006: five (50 per cent.) out of 10 persons.

These figures represent only those cases which have been concluded at court. A number of cases are still awaiting trial, or are currently passing through the courts. These cases are not included in the totals above. For example, in 2006, 36 cases were directed for prosecution, of which five have so far resulted in conviction, five have not, and the remaining 26 either await trial or are in the process of being tried.

The Government are committed to improving the rates of successful prosecution in rape cases. PSNI's CARE units deal with the investigation of serious adult sexual offences and sexual and physical abuse of children and are staffed by highly skilled and trained personnel. The PSNI CARE teams are dedicated to enhancing the service to victims of rape and sexual assault and are seeking to enhance the investigative process so that more offenders are brought before the courts.

We have made significant progress towards establishing a sexual assault referral centre in Northern Ireland and are working in partnership with colleagues in DHSSPS, PSNI, the medical profession and the voluntary sector to develop an appropriate range of services. In addition, PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service have recently begun to analyse a number of rape investigations, in order that they continue to develop models of best investigative practice. In particular, attention will focus upon case building and the significant number of cases that currently do not make the threshold for prosecution.