THOUSANDS of potential rape victims have been let down by cops after it emerged one in 10 cases were botched.
Bungling police forces have failed to accurately record thousands of rape reports with many not being recorded or investigated at all.
The shock figures obtained by The Guardian found that only three of 34 forces were found to have properly recorded rape complaints and of the more than 4,900 audited reports, 552 were found to be inaccurate between August 2016 and July 2019.
However, not every reported rape is audited so it is impossible to know the true scale of how many cops got wrong – but figures show more 150,000 were reported over that period.
It was found that potential victims with mental health and addiction issues and victims of trafficking were particularly vulnerable to being struck from the record by some police forces.
The bungles include botched or incomplete paperwork including rapes being recorded as an incident rather than a crime.
Vera Baird, the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, said: “Where cases are not being recorded as a crime and are dismissed as an incident, that’s a concern because it may be that if the cases were investigated they could result in a prosecution.
“We know rape is a serial offence so it should be a very considered decision not to pursue something that looks like a rape as a crime of rape.”
We know rape is a serial offence so it should be a very considered decision not to pursue something that looks like a rape as a crime of rape.
Vera Baird, the victims' commissioner for England and Wales
In one instance, a rape was reported to Greater Manchester police but the case was not recorded as a crime.
The victim was in a secure mental health facility and officers did not investigate further after staff from the facility assessed that the victim “lacked the capacity to make an informed complaint”.
The police later made direct contact with the victim, recorded the crime and it was under investigation in 2018.
In North Yorkshire in 2017 a report of a victim with mental health issues was not recorded as a rape as “officers did not properly understand how to deal with her ability to consent”, according to an audit.
She subsequently reported being raped again by the same person. The force has since investigated the case though there was no prosecution.
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A spokesman for North Yorkshire police said: “It was not possible to bring about a prosecution due to several factors, including the victim declining to engage with the police, which made gathering enough information for a prosecution extremely challenging.
“Extensive safeguarding measures have been put in place by the police and other organisations to support the victim.”
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said: “The rate of rape reporting to police forces has sharply increased since 2014, and we are working to further improve the accuracy of crime reporting, which is governed by detailed counting rules set out by the Home Office.
We are conducting an end-to-end review into the criminal justice response to rape which will help us to better understand the decline in cases reaching the courts and improve our overall response.
“The accurate recording of crime can be influenced by many factors that may not be clear at the beginning of an investigation.”
A spokesperson for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said that although recording of sexual offence crimes by police had improved since 2014, it could not definitively say if there had been an improvement in rape recording.
Recorded rape has more than doubled since 2013-14 to 58,657 cases in 2018-19.
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However, police are referring fewer cases for prosecution and the CPS is charging, prosecuting and winning fewer cases.
The number of cases resulting in a conviction is lower than it was more than a decade ago.
A government spokesperson said: “We are conducting an end-to-end review into the criminal justice response to rape which will help us to better understand the decline in cases reaching the courts and improve our overall response.”
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