NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 30, 2008

In Great Britain, a nation whose justice system has been used as a model around the globe, government officials and women's rights activists agree that rape goes largely unpunished, says the Washington Post.

 According to government statistics:

  • Some 14,000 rape cases a year are reported.
  • 19 out of 20 defendants in a rape case walk free.
  • Only 5.7 percent of rapes officially recorded by police in England and Wales end in a conviction.
  • In comparison, about 25 percent of reports of assault and 75 percent of homicides in England and Wales lead to someone being found guilty.

Solicitor General Vera Baird, who oversees criminal prosecutions in England, estimated that 10 to 20 percent of rapes are brought to authorities' attention.  Women's advocates say the main reason why rape victims choose not to go to the police is because they feel the system is stacked against them. 

A 2005 report commissioned by the police found a "culture of skepticism" in the justice system when it came to rape cases.  Despite advances toward equality, sex crimes run up against a persistent societal bias -- pronounced in the male-dominated police and judicial system -- that women have only themselves to blame, says Jordan.  For example:

  • Public opinion polls show that a sizable proportion -- a quarter to a third -- of Britons say a rape victim is responsible for the attack if she is drunk or wearing "sexy" clothes.
  • As many as one in two young men believe there are some circumstances when it's okay to force a woman to have sex, said Conservative Party leader David Cameron, citing studies.

Source: May Jordan, "In Britain, Rape Cases Seldom Result in a Conviction," Washington Post, May 29, 2008.

For text: 


Browse more articles on Government Issues