30 May 2024

Wiltshire Police respond to media coverage of rape outcomes data

Following coverage in the national press, Wiltshire Police has responded to data from the Home Office regarding the proportion of rape reports which result in a charge or summons in Wiltshire.

The data states that only 0.7% of rape cases ended in a charge or summons during the three year period of 2018-19 to 2020-21. A news article in the Telegraph reports: “Only one in 140 rapes are being solved by the country’s worst-performing police force”.

In response to this, Wiltshire Police said, “the published Home Office data for Wiltshire Police does not accurately reflect the current position, due to the different ways police forces submit data. Wiltshire Police is currently one of three forces nationwide which reports crime outcomes manually, which creates a lag in the data provided.

“We have been working hard to improve our outcomes and, over the past 12 months, we have seen our rape detection rate rise from 3.8 per cent in October 2020 to 4.1 per cent in October 2021.

“However, we completely accept that these amended figures still do not represent where we want to be as a police force and we are continuing to do everything we can to improve our outcomes.

“It goes without saying that we take reports of rape and sexual assault incredibly seriously and we want our communities to have complete confidence in reporting these types of offences to the police. Dealing with rape and sexual assault is the Force’s priority”.

The statement goes on to say, “We have been working closely with our colleagues at the Crown Prosecution Service to improve our joint response to rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) and now have a tri-force Wessex RASSO Action Plan in place.

“This has seen the introduction of a range of measures with a greater focus on improving the service we provide for victims and increasing the likelihood the perpetrator will be brought to justice.

“We have recruited extra specialist staff to ensure victims are supported throughout the whole process and all RASSO cases are investigated by specially-trained detectives. In addition, all cases are prosecuted by specialist lawyers who are trained to understand the challenges that are often associated with such cases.

“We are pleased to say that we are already seeing the benefits of this approach and we are hopeful that this will be reflected in future data. We are seeing more cases referred to CPS more quickly. We are also increasing the number of perpetrators being charged and prosecuted.

“This is not something which can be drastically improved overnight, but we want this to be a sustained, long-term action plan that makes a real difference for victims and brings offenders to justice.

“As always we would urge victims of rape and sexual assault to report offences to the police, no matter how long ago they occurred, so they can be fully investigated.

“You can do this by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency. Victims can also seek support and counselling from the Swindon and Wiltshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) – they can be contacted on the helpline 01793 781916”.

Image: Google Maps Street View.

Written by
Beth Doherty
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Written by Beth Doherty