Scales of Justice?
Rape is in the headlines once more, but for all the wrong reasons and not because at long last Britain has done something to halt the increase in rape, or stop 100 or so women being raped every day, or bring to justice more than 1% of the evil rapists. No, this news is about the continuing inability of the relevant authorities to properly investigate rapes and then ensure the due process of justice is rigorously followed.
Recent court cases involving rape prosecutions have dramatically failed at the twelfth hour when the legal representatives of men accused were finally provided with critical evidence that apparently cleared their clients. This unacceptable situation has simply thrown another spanner in the works that will not only deter raped women to report what has happened to them, but it will also plant a seed of doubt in the minds of jurors that will be exploited by defence barristers to allow ever more rapists to get away with it, wont it? [Where the police get it wrong, that most commonly has a negative impact on the complainant, not the defendant].
The way the British legal system works is that the Police investigate reported crime in relevant depth, interview and take detailed statements from the complainant [by detectives], collect ALL available EVIDENCE, and IF they think that there is a case to answer they pass-over all the information to the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] who decide if there is a realistic prospect of conviction, so whether or not someone should be charged with any offence. Anyone so prosecuted for breaking the law has the right to put forward a defence in a Court of law and they are entitled to both know exactly what they are accused of and to have been given all the accumulated relevant evidence, which would include that which could be helpful to their defence as well as that supporting the prosecution – that requirement is known as an obligation of “disclosure”.
Not one thing but a number of things must have gone wrong in those rape cases that have collapse because of lack of disclosure. Moreover, after four trials collapsed in two months, reportedly Scotland Yard are now reviewing urgently about thirty or so most serious cases involving rape or sexual abuse.
Well, some politicians [Labour] say that such multiple things going wrong is all basically down to ‘austerity’ [Tory] in the criminal justice system and there may be some element of truth in that, perhaps? The excuse of some of those actually responsible however, is that those dealing are stretched because evidence is so complex in this digital age, but surely that has to be seen in the context that facilities to deal with it are equally also substantially improved these days, as well?
It would seem to us others that neither the Police nor the CPS are doing their job properly and that can only undermine both public confidence in them as well as the trust we place in the trial process which needs to be fair to the accused while consistently convicting the guilty.
Now, it has to be said that dealing with allegations of rape or sexual assault can be quite challenging because it is often one person’s word against another, whence other evidence becomes crucial when a jury is faced with deciding which one is lying.
When someone is “acquitted” of rape it doesn’t actually mean the woman has made it up, nor that the man didn’t do it, does it? No, that verdict simply reflects the fact that the case was “NOT proved” and under Human Rights in a criminal case there is ‘a presumption innocent until proved guilty in a public trial in accordance to law’ [that is a sacred principle whereby the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the crime as charged.
It is perfectly clear from recent events that NOT ALL those involved in bringing rapists and sexual assaulters to justice are properly trained, adequality resourced, or indeed MOTIVATED, isn’t it? This has been a major setback when already there was a criminal justice crisis when violent sexual crimes [more than half of them rapes] in England and Wales has reached its highest recorded level [neigh-on sixty-five thousand] , and about double those from the likes of Germany and France – that is the tip of the iceberg because official figures only reflected the extent to which sex crimes are reported and recorded by the police and certainly do not really measure the actual number of victims because MOST rapes and assaults don’t get reported, do they?
While rightly perhaps, rape cases grab the headlines and have done so on this problem with disclosure, one must conclude that such an issue won’t just be about sex cases, but would occur in other serious crimes as well, surely? It is disturbing then that the Director of Public Prosecutions [who heads-up the CPS] has summarily dismissed any possibility of anybody being wrongly convicted, isn’t it?
Britain’s ongoing failure to deal with rapists and with the conviction rate constantly falling [halved from 15% five years ago, despite rapes themselves doubling], needs to be better addressed and QUICKLY to. We are well aware that there will always be a few, but not many, women falsely making allegations of rape, but these should be quickly and easily identified and those women dealt with harshly – after all their numbers are not only minute but are utterly submersed by the astounding numbers of false assertions of innocence by men rapists and sex offenders who ALWAYS vehemently protest their innocence before conviction, and ALWAYS claim sex was consensual, or enjoyed by the victim [even if previously unknown to them, eh?].
Indisputably, we now live in a Country with a climate where rape is widespread and the victims are generally disbelieved so don’t get justice, do they? Because of that, until things are resolved, there needs to be significantly more effort and resources put-in by our Nation to supporting the victims of sexual attack and abuse and that means for example more rape crisis centers [which currently are few and far between, so are swamped, and have many thousands of victims on their waiting lists].
That doesn’t just require more resources but new improved techniques for ‘generating’ relevant evidence [in addition ‘collecting it’, as repeatedly police admit not to have gathered important evidence at the scene, or failed to interview key witnesses], together with the establishment of effective specialist police units, refocusing of the CPS’ priority to cope better with rapist allegations and prosecute more, as well as changes to the law [proposals needed from the Attorney General (who actually supervises the CPS)] as currently it is near damn impossible to convict sex offenders, isn’t it? The system practices of the justice system currently disproportionately disenfranchise the victims of sex crime rather than convict the accused.
Following rape women suffer massive feelings of shame and guilt but their treatment thereafter simply reinforces that emotion when THEY are treated like the criminal rather than the victim, and despite the guidelines designed to prevent it, still become the accused when giving evidence against their attacker, particularly as even their judgement and private sexual history gets exposed in open court, eh? Rape regularly can cause relationship breakup, and the price that women pay goes on for years after the rape was committed as it has a long-term impact on their health [including depression, and anxiety] as well as often affecting those around them
The following comment was posted here 5 years ago – it never happened though so it still applies, eh?
[Something has got to be done to correct the unacceptable statistics on rape convictions. New techniques are required, such as better use of forensic facilities, use of specialist prosecutors, greater victim support, higher CPS priority, improved police action, etc, together with more funding – this disgrace has to be ended now].