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Rape Convictions

Volume 511: debated on Tuesday 15 June 2010

17. What the conviction rate was for cases of rape reported in Liverpool, Wavertree constituency in the last 12 months for which figures are available. (2232)

Conviction rates are based on the proportion of defendants proceeded against who were found guilty. I can tell the hon. Lady that 44 defendants were proceeded against in the Merseyside police force area in 2008 and 13 were found guilty, giving a conviction rate of 30%. Court proceedings data are not available at parliamentary constituency level.

As the Secretary of State has just highlighted, the conviction rate for rape in my constituency is already dangerously low. Can he give us a definitive answer as to why rape defendants should be afforded greater protection than defendants accused of other serious crimes?

There are some relevant arguments on both sides, and other arguments that—with respect—are less relevant. I do not think that the conviction rate for rape is affected by whether the defendant had anonymity up to the trial. Nor is a woman’s decision to complain affected by whether the man’s name will be published in the newspaper immediately. It is important to ensure that all cases of rape are reported by victims who are then treated properly and that cases in which the evidence is sufficient are prosecuted and convicted. I trust that that will be pursued in Merseyside. As I say, some 30% of those charged are convicted, and I shall not dilate further than I did earlier on the particular nature of rape allegations, which are rather different from the allegations of normal violent crime or theft—[Interruption.] No, the nature of the issue before the jury is very different in such cases. The best analogy is with other sexual offence complaints made against teachers and others, in which anonymity is given to the victim but not to the person accused, and some Members have argued for that to be reconsidered.