FOI investigation by Ann Coffey MP reveals shocking figures showing men aged under 25 much more likely to be acquitted at rape trials
Academic study has already found – jurors less willing to convict young defendants for fear of the impact ‘rapist’ label may have on their future
In alarming new numbers released today (23 September) following a Freedom of Information request to the CPS by Ann Coffey MP, it is revealed that, in England and Wales, men aged 18 to 24 are consistently less much likely to be found guilty than older men on trial.
The statistics cover rape cases over the last 5 years and show:
- The conviction rate last year in rape only trials involving 18-24 year old men was 32% – the lowest of any age group. The number of successful prosecutions against men aged 25-59 was much higher, at 46%.
- Of the 1,343 rape cases the CPS has taken against younger men, only 404 were were convicted – an average of 30%.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Dominic Willmott from the University of Huddersfield, who has carried out extensive research (1) into jury bias in sexual offence cases, said:
“Scientific research shows us quite clearly that jurors are simply less willing to convict young defendants of rape for fear of the consequences such a ‘rapist’ label will have on their future.”
Responding to these findings, EVAW Coalition Co-Director Sarah Green said:
“These figures are shocking and, given that very few cases make it to court in the first place, they could be read as showing that there is near impunity in this country for young adult men who commit rape.
“Around 3,500 reported rapes from an estimated 85,000 rapes committed each year are charged and go to court (2, 3). Younger men are a very significant group among those who are charged with rape. These figures show us that they are much more likely than defendants who are older to be acquitted. We have to ask – what is going on here?
“We urgently need an independent examination of every stage of the police and courts process. It should start with the under-reporting of rape, including the fact that younger women and girls, BME women, disabled women and women with mental health problems are from the start less likely to report and to get to court.
“No stone should be left unturned, even if this means looking at the way juries work, how they reach conclusions and radical ideas for tackling prejudices which may be getting in the way of fair and just decisions. The implications of ignoring this run counter to any notions of equality and access to justice.
“Since #MeToo opened up a new conversation about sexual violence 12 months ago, we have seen a horrible pushback against women reporting rape and harassment, with constant insinuations of false allegations. The consequences for justice are simply not bearable – we have to tackle this now. The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Secretary of State for Justice should respond to these figures urgently and make tackling this among their top priorities.”
- Dr Dominic Willmott research on jury attitudes 2018
- 85,000 women are raped and more than 400,000 are sexually assaulted each year in England & Wales (ONS, 2013)
- In 2012/13, the police recorded 16,374 rape offences, and in 2016/17 this figure leapt to 41,186, of which only 3,671 were charged. (Rape Monitoring Group)