Also via SVRI - Sexual Violence Research Initiative


February 17, 2010



Claims that sexist juries allow rapists to get away with their crimes have been challenged in an official report.

It found serious doubts about the suggestion that jurors have widespread "prejudicial attitudes" towards women who claim they have been raped.

The study, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, also contradicted earlier Government claims that defendants in rape cases are more likely to be acquitted than found guilty.

In fact, other serious crimes such as attempted murder, manslaughter and making threats to kill, have lower conviction rates than rape cases.

The report, written by Professor Cheryl Thomas from University College London, analysed all four thousand jury rape verdicts in England and Wales between 2006 and 2008. It found 55% of rape cases resulted in conviction.

A breakdown of cases showed conviction rates were high in cases involving young girls and low in some cases involving alleged male victims.

An earlier Home Office study which found juries were more likely to acquit than convict alleged rapists looked at fewer than 200 cases in just a handful of courts.

The report stated: "Contrary to popular belief and previous government reports, juries actually convict more often than they acquit in rape cases. There is no doubt the proportion of rape allegations reported to police that end in conviction is extremely low, but it is also clear that this is not due to any widespread jury failure to convict in rape cases."

Ministers have introduced a series of measures aimed at improving the conviction rate in rape cases which do come before the courts, including specialist rape prosecutors.

There are also ongoing efforts to improve how the police handle and investigate rape complaints, after a series of high profile failures.

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