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Defendant Anonymity (Rape Cases)

Volume 518: debated on Friday 12 November 2010

I have placed in the House Libraries copies of an independent assessment of research relevant to defendant anonymity in rape cases. This discharges an undertaking given in the summer.

The assessment has found insufficient reliable empirical evidence on which to base an informed decision on the value of providing anonymity to rape defendants. Evidence is lacking in a number of key areas, in particular, whether the inability to publicise a person’s identity will prevent further witnesses to a known offence from coming forward, or further unknown offences by the same person from coming to light.

The coalition Government made it clear from the outset that they would proceed with defendant anonymity in rape cases only if the evidence justifying it was clear and sound, and in the absence of any such finding they have reached the conclusion that the proposal does not stand on its merits. It will not, therefore, be proceeded with further.

The report we are publishing today will be of wider interest to those concerned with criminal justice policy, the offence of rape, and violence against women and girls.

The Government’s commitment to give anonymity to teachers accused by pupils, and take other measures to protect against false accusations, is separate. We will announce the outcome of that work, which is being led by the Department for Education, in due course.