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We are always interested to learn from the experience of other countries. However, international comparisons in respect of convictions for rape are not reliable because different countries have different definitions of rape and different levels of reporting. Recording practices also vary, for instance, some countries record a crime only where there is sufficient evidence to prosecute.
A review of research into rape and sexual assault, which included the practice of gradation of sexual offences in other jurisdictions, was commissioned as part of the major review of sexual offences which informed the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The research was published in July 2000 in ‘Setting the Boundaries’ Volume 2. There are no plans to conduct further research in this area.
The Government take the view that rape is a very serious crime and that the seriousness of each individual case is best reflected in sentencing, in the light of the facts and considerations in the case, rather than in the creation of separate categories of offences which attempt to distinguish between more or less serious cases of rape by reference to, for example, the degree of violence used.