Police insist rape victims still priority despite a fraction of cases resulting in charges

Det Supt Kathryn Thacker. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Det Supt Kathryn Thacker. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Police chiefs in Norfolk have insisted rape victims are the priority despite new figures which show that just a fraction of recent cases reported ended with a suspect being charged.

Just one in every 58 rape cases reported in Norfolk, between April and June this year, resulted in a suspect being charged, Home Office data has shown.

During that quarter, 234 rape cases were closed by Norfolk Police, of which, just four resulted in a suspect being charged or ordered to appear in court.

The statistics found that charges were less likely for rape than other sexual offences in the country, for which 10 per cent of the 426 cases reported resulted in a suspect being charged.

Nationally, a suspect was charged in four per cent of rape cases and eight per cent in other sexual offences.

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In more than 60 per cent of rape reports, the case was closed because of lack of evidence, with the victim unwilling to support further action.

Sexual violence charity Rape Crisis said the criminal justice system is 'failing victims and survivors of rape'.

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But Detective Superintendent Kate Thacker, from Norfolk Police, said victims were always the priority.

She said: 'Rape and sexual assaults are serious and complex cases to investigate.

'Many factors will have an impact on charge and convictions rates, including the strength of evidence presented and in some cases, the willingness of the victim to proceed.

'Given the complexity of sexual offences, victims are not always in support of prosecution.

'These crimes can often be complicated and may have taken place within a family/friend setting, or happened some time ago, meaning victims can be unwilling to take matters to court.

'We do all that we can to support victims of such crimes, but the passing of time can make prosecution difficult.

'Victims are the priority in any investigation; we will always work to gather and secure evidence in order to gain a successful conviction.'

• Figures for Suffolk show that one in 18 rape cases resulted in charges between April and June this year.

Over the same period 108 cases were closed, with six suspects charged or ordered to court while nearly half of cases closed due to lack of evidence or victims opposing action.

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