Herts police chief calls for greater scrutiny of rape cases to tackle low conviction rate
PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 October 2019
The really low conviction rate when it comes to rape allegations could impact on whether victims come forward, Herts Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has warned, prompting him to look at greater scrutiny of allegations that do not get to court.
According to Hertfordshire data for 2017/18, 864 rape allegations were reported to the police, who referred 56 of these allegations to the Crown Prosecution Service. Charges were made in 35 of those incidents, leading to 28 successful convictions.
At a meeting of the Herts Police and Crime Panel, Mr Lloyd said he is considering a rape scrutiny panel in the county, where cases that did not progress - either because there was judged to be no crime committed or they did not meet the threshold for charges - are analysed.
He believes scrutiny panels can provide insight into the effectiveness of police investigations, as well as identify ways to improve the management and investigation of cases.
Mr Lloyd acknowledged that rape can be "really difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt".
He said he is encouraged by the increasing number of victims coming forward to report the crime, but is particularly concerned by the number of cases that are passed to the CPS by the police but aren't progressed.
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Mr Lloyd says he accepts the CPS has to have a bar in terms of whether there is a case to answer, but suggests it is set too high.
He said: "I think there should be a level of 'is there a case to answer' rather than 'is it proven'.
"I am really concerned that as people find out the really low level of conviction of rape, people who have been victims of crime will think, 'is it worth going through this if they are not going to get a conviction?'.
"I think there is a danger brave people won't talk.
"I am keen to introduce more transparency and scrutiny into the system in order to drive improvements in rape outcomes and improve public confidence.
"Scrutinising rape case files where it has been judged that no crime has been committed, or which were said not to have achieved the required threshold for charging, can help to provide an insight into the effectiveness of the police investigation and identify lessons learned for the future management and investigation of cases.
"I will undertake a review of rape scrutiny panels in operation across the country to better understand the role one could play in driving improvements in Hertfordshire."