- 2010 National Women's Conference
- 20 October 2009
- Carried as Amended
Conference, every thirty four minutes a crime of rape is reported to the police. For every rape reported, many more are not reported. One in four local authorities has no specialised support services to help the victims of rape.
Conference notes with dismay the Fawcett Society statement that there is a growing gap in rape conviction rates between different police forces across the country. In some areas a rape victim is eleven times more likely to secure a conviction than in others, according to the Fawcett society.
In 2007, nearly twenty per cent of rape accusations in Cleveland resulted in guilty verdicts, compared to just one in sixty in Dorset.
Their report also states that in sixteen out of forty two police force areas in the UK, rape conviction rates fell “worryingly” between 2006 and 2007.
Katherine Rake, of the Fawcett Society, said “Rape should be treated with the same professionalism as other crimes….. It is a national scandal that thousands of victims have no access to justice, and frequently face a culture of disbelief and delayed responses which may lead to the loss of vital evidence.”
Cleveland Police Force’s is a successful story where the rape conviction rate has improved continuously since 2004. Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Simpson says a lot of it is down to the training given to officers. “Within the Force we have given a number of officers specialist training to deal with victims of rape and these officers are always deployed whenever an allegation of rape is received.” But sadly the improvement shown in Cleveland is not replicated through the other Forces in England.
The depressing rape conviction figures are set against the lack of funding for the Rape Crisis centres. The number of Rape Crisis Centres has fallen from sixty eight to just thirty seven today. Victims that are often denied justice, also often face difficulty access the specialist services centres for one year is half of that spent by the Government each week on advertising and public relations. The demand for Rape Crisis services is huge and there are long waiting lists to access the services provided.
Conference instructs the National Women’s Committee to:
1)Work with Labour Link to lobby the Government for improved funding for the Rape Crisis Centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland based on the Rape Crisis funding model for Scotland, enabling the vital work they do to continue on behalf of the victims of Rape.
2)Work with Labour Link and the General Political Fund to lobby the Government on strengthening the law on rape, and to ensure that the postcode lottery ceases.
3)Work with Regional women’s Committees to raise awareness of the effects of rape and sexual violence on women.
4)Encourage the Regional Women’s Committees to write to their local Chief Constables to query what action they are taking in order to raise the detection and conviction rates for rape in their county. Further to ask if their officers dealing with rape have received specialist training in dealing with rape and sexual offences crimes.
5)Report findings back to National Women’s Conference 2011.