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Crime: Rape

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What study data are kept on rape cases which draw a distinction between rape by a stranger as against rape by a person known to the accuser. [HL527]

The British Crime Survey (BCS) systematically collects information on rape, although due to the sensitivity of such questions in a face-to-face crime survey it is recognised that the subsequent results may be an unreliable indicator. For this reason, they are not routinely published.

However, a number of BCS questionnaires have included a self-completion part on sexual victimisation designed to improve reliability and confidentiality. The BCS questionnaires on sexual victimisation also collect information about the relationship between offenders and victims. The latest published results are reported in Home Office Online Report 12/06 (Finney, 2006). According to the 2004-05 BCS most women and men who had been victims of serious sexual assaults had been assaulted by people who they know rather than strangers. Altogether 11 per cent of females and 17 per cent of male victims of serious sexual assaults had been assaulted by a stranger.

A research study, commissioned by the Home Office (Home Office Research Study 293, Kelly, et al (2005)), also provides information on the victim's relationship to the offender. Analysis of incidents of rape which had been reported to a sexual assault referral centre (SARC) from 1987 to 2002 revealed that over half of the assaults were committed by a perpetrator who was known to the victim compared with about a quarter of assaults which were committed by strangers.