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Why is the conviction rate for rape so low in the United Kingdom - Dissertation Example

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Rape is an infamously difficult crime to investigate for a number of reasons. Perhaps the main reason is that there is often little or no physical evidence, as there are in other crimes, leading to a situation where the trial is essentially reliant on the word of two separate individuals…
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Why is the conviction rate for rape so low in the United Kingdom
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Download file to see previous pages More often than not, the prosecution and defence parties know each other, making the witness accounts more likely to involve some bias. Despite this, it is suggested that the United Kingdom has some of the best training in the world for officers dealing with rape cases, with a huge number of restrictions and guidelines in relation to these cases. However, the conviction rate for rape still remains extremely low, especially when compared with that of other physical crimes. The Association of Chief Police Officers lead for rape has suggested that this might be because the training is often ignored, perhaps due to the personal nature of rape cases. The purpose of this investigation is to critically review the available literature on the topic to ascertain further reasons why this conviction rate is still so low for cases of rape. This will provide material to evaluate the situation for rape victims (and those falsely accused of rape) in the U.K. and perform a critical reflection on the subject. This material will be used to show that it is the very nature of rape that ensures the conviction rate remains at this low percentage, although changes in procedure may help the proceedings in some cases. Definitions and Types of Rape Perhaps something that makes cases of rape more likely to go unprosecuted is that the definition of rape changes between individuals and between organizational bodies. This could have a number of consequences, not least being that jurors may have differing opinions that make prosecution difficult. The United Nations (UN) definition of rape is ‘sexual intercourse without valid consent’6, which in the United Kingdom includes minors under 16 years of age who are not legally able to give ‘valid consent’. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that rape is ‘physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration – even if slight – of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object’7, again focusing on penetration being the definitive act. Some feel that this is exclusive of those who experience sexual misconduct without penetration. Within the United Kingdom, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines rape as an act which can only be carried out by a man, must involve penetration and this man must not reasonably believe that there is consent.8 This is the definition that will be used throughout this essay, as it is useful from a legal context, despite the social issues that it may provoke. Rape & Prosecution Rates in the United Kingdom The Home Office publishes statistics on rape cases, which provide a useful basis for any research on rape in the United Kingdom. The following figures do not include statutory rape; all the cases reported here are by male and female victims aged between 16 and 59. This gives the rate of rape and attempted rate for 2006 as about 0.5% of women in the 16-59 age group, or one in every 200 women9. When cases of attempted rate are excluded, the rate remains high at 0.3%. Overall, the best estimate for sexual assault crimes was that it affected It was reported that 53% of cases of serious sexual assault against women were caused by a partner (a complicating factor that will be discussed below), whilst in men the most common ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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