32% of rapes cases in Cleveland Police area are successfully prosecuted
Cleveland Police has the highest conviction rate for rape cases in England and Wales, according to new Government figures.
Data released by the Ministry of Justice reveals that in 2017, 32% of cases brought to court in the force’s area saw successful prosecutions.
Overall one in five rape cases are successfully prosecuted.
This data includes cases where rape is the most serious offence, so incidents where the victim was killed would be counted as murder or manslaughter.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Police will prosecute offenders wherever possible.
“We would always encourage victims of rape and sexual assault to come forward and speak to police, whether incidents are recent or historical.
“There is help and support available from both police and partner agencies and victims can be assured that investigations will be dealt with sensitively and professionally.”
A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: “We recognise that rape and serious sexual offences are some of the most complex cases prosecuted by the CPS and we have worked hard in recent years to improve how we deal with these cases.
“We have almost doubled the number of specialist prosecutors in our dedicated Rape and Serious Sexual Offence Units and improved the support we offer victims through criminal proceedings.
“In recognition of the unique challenges involved in prosecuting these offences and taking them to trial, the CPS is focused on building strong cases with all available evidence, including CCTV, eyewitness accounts and mobile phone evidence, and supporting victims throughout the process.”
Dr Hannah Bows, senior lecturer in criminology at Teesside University, said that while it was hard to judge without knowing the details of cases, the figures were “particularly surprising” and the figures are significantly lower in other areas.
She said: “Something is going wrong because the evidence required in rape cases to get a case brought to court is so high.
“Any question marks and the case is unlikely to go forward.
“That’s why it’s so frustrating when people say there are loads of false rape cases because it’s not true.”
Dr Bows is also concerned these figures will put people off from reporting rape allegations.
“Often the victim feels like they’re on trial,” she added.