Has the British government decriminalised rape and sexual assault?
A few years ago I wrote about the way drugs were becoming decriminalised in the UK. There was never any policy announcement, just huge cuts in Police funding that forced local forces to make hard choices about which crimes they could afford to pursue. Theresa May, a hard line authoritarian Home Secretary accidentally became Britain’s most liberal politician when it came to drugs
Looking at the data there is another crime which the Police appear to have decriminalised in the same covert way:
in 2021 773,000 adults aged 16 to 74 years were victims of sexual assault (including attempted). Of these 320,000 were rape or attempted rape.
In the 12 months to September 2021 63,163 Rapes were reported to the Police in the UK. The majority of people who are raped don’t report it to the Police.
Conviction rates for rape are at the lowest level since records began. In the same period 12 month period only 1500 cases were sent to court and just over 800 people were found guilty of rape – 1% of total reported cases. It currently takes up to 3 years. for a case to go to court.
Over the last 10 years the budget for the CPS has been cut by 30% and staff numbers by 40%.
A similar decline has happened in Child Sexual Abuse cases. 7.5% of the population of the UK experience child sexual abuse. Over the last 4 years the numbers charged has fallen to an all time low from 6,394 in 2016/17 to 3,025 in 2020/21, while convictions dropped by 45% from 4,751 to 2,595 over the same period. It now takes 18 months for a case to reach trial.
On the whole I think that the decriminalisation of drugs has been a good thing, but it is not without problems. Growing numbers of stoned homeless on the streets are a problem, although these are as much a product of huge cuts in NHS Mental Health and Drugs & Alcohol services as anything else
The covert legalisation of rape and child sexual abuse is a huge scandal that has escaped public attention while the media focus on individual scandals involving MPs. I can’t help but think that there is a link between the number of MPs from the ruling party involved in sexual offences and their indifference to the collapse in prosecutions for rape and sexual assault.