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To wonder how we determine if a rape accusation is false?

(198 Posts)
FlinchGirl Fri 24-Mar-17 13:34:31

It seems just about everyone I talk to about this "knows" someone who was definitely falsely accused whilst their accuser apparently got away scott free.

But how do we determine whether an accusation is false?

A claim being withdrawn or charges being dropped or a not guilty verdict being reached does not mean the accusation were false, surely? But those are always the responses I get when I ask how they know the accusations were false. Occasionally the accuser apparently admitted they made it up but then when you probe further it becomes apparent that there is no evidence such a confession took place; it is just what people perceived to have happened and is now being repeated as fact.

I can't say I blame women in being reluctant to report rape sad

noeffingidea Fri 24-Mar-17 13:41:44

It's a very difficult situation.
When it comes down to one person's word against the others you're really looking for consistency in statements, cross examining, etc.
I've never been through it myself (thankfully) but I know I could never make a false accusation myself, because I'm a terrible liar.
I know people hate to admit it on Mumsnet, but I do think there are a very small number of people who would make false allegations without giving it a second thought.They lie about other things, so why not rape.

PageNowFoundFileUnderSpartacus Fri 24-Mar-17 13:50:56

I worked in the CJS for over a decade and in that time we had two cases where it came to light that a false accusation had been made. Two cases in 10+ years. There were more than two pre-charge advice cases dropped every week because the file didn't pass the evidential test, not because the alleged victim was thought to be lying but simply because there was insufficient evidence to believe there was a realistic prospect of conviction.

There are people who will make up such a claim, of course there are, but they are a tiny minority.

x2boys Fri 24-Mar-17 13:57:00

my husband was charged with assault two years ago what he was alleged to have done and what actually happened differed vastly th CPS took it too trial and on the day the trial was due to begin they deceided their main witness was reliable and they accepted my husbands version of events obviously very different to falsely accusing people of rape but people do lie about things .

x2boys Fri 24-Mar-17 13:57:45

their main witness was unreliable*

Edsheeranalbumparty Fri 24-Mar-17 14:08:09

Obviously the nature of the circumstances around the crime of rape means that often it is difficult to prove either way. This is one of the reasons that getting a rape conviction is difficult, when the burden of proof is on the accuser. However, the number of proven false accusations is very small compared to the number of proven rapes.

The idea that it's really common for women to go around shagging blokes and then accusing them of rape, is just rooted in plain old misogyny.

LadyPW Fri 24-Mar-17 14:23:44

A claim being withdrawn or charges being dropped or a not guilty verdict being reached does not mean the accusation were false, surely?
No, not at all. It might, but more often than not it means that the CPS decides there's insufficient evidence to proceed (too much he said, she said and possibly, unfortunately, the victim might not come across too well (too many prior partners for a jury to be sympathetic, prior sexual contact with the accused, drunkenness, etc.) and therefore the CPS decides they'd not have a decent enough chance of conviction) or that the jury wasn't sufficiently convinced to bring in a guilty verdict. And some victims decide they just can't face it or are pressurised into dropping it.

Redglitter Fri 24-Mar-17 14:27:52

Can also be down to something like cctv showing what was alleged to have happened quite clearly didn't. I've seen that happen on a few occasions

VestalVirgin Fri 24-Mar-17 17:31:29

I would distrust any claim that a rape accusation was false if it is proven that PiV happened.

People frame other people for violent crimes, occasionally. It happens. But there always is a reason.

If a woman hates a man enough to want to frame him for rape, and hates him so much she is willing to endure the way rape victims are treated in court just to get back at him - then the likelihood of her consenting to have sex with a man she hates so much, is so small that it is almost non-existant.
Men stick their penises in women they hate, but women do not usually want the penises of men they hate inside them. There's a difference.

They lie about other things, so why not rape.

Because the conviction rate for rape is so bad, and the treatment of rape victims by society and in court so shitty, that a woman who actually was raped would probably be more likely to get some justice by trying to frame the rapist for burglary instead.

It logically follows that, if no rape actually took place, it would be much preferable to try and frame the person one wants to harm for something else. With no other crime are the victims treated so horridly as with rape.

There are many idiots on this world, so some people probably do try and make false rape accusations despite the disadvantages, but the number of convictions based on false accusations must be close to zero, considering that the overall conviction rate is so small.

AskBasil Fri 24-Mar-17 22:42:11

People say rape allegations are false, because they don't know the circumstances and they are surrounded by rape myths.

Most reports of rape are true, only about 2-4% are false allegations; those who "know" the allegation made about their friend, have probably just imbibed the rape myths and haven't thought further than the old misogynist idea that false rape allegations are common.

When I hear that someone was falsely accused of rape, unless the circumstances are very clearly a false allegation, I assume a 96% probability that the accusation wasn't false. Because that's what the probability is.

Missswatch Fri 24-Mar-17 22:51:25

4% is still too much. The problem is those 4% have made it difficult for real victims to come forward

Quimby Fri 24-Mar-17 23:14:35

"Most reports of rape are true, only about 2-4% are false allegations;"

But only 2-4% being false doesn't mean the other 96-8% are true.

False rapes are recorded where there is an accusation of rape made that the state are satisfied was made knowing it was false and with the intention that this falsehood would be believed. That's the standard for a false accusation.

So if you have another accusation where there's just no way of knowing either way then that's not going to be recorded as a false claim but also there's no way of saying that the allegation is true.

Sorry that's quite semantic, the overwhelming majority are true, the myth of the false accusation or malicious accusation are rampant and damaging,I accept that.

But the claim that because only 2-8% (it varies tbf depending on the source) are verified as false that the remainder are true is also not accurate.

BillSykesDog Fri 24-Mar-17 23:24:20

Quimby is right. There have been various studies which have come up with various different figures from 2%-42% but none of them can be definitively reliable because it's simply impossible to tell. Really good article about it here:

www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2014-09-19/how-many-rape-reports-are-false

One thing that article does clear up is that withdrawn allegations or dropped charges have been dismissed as a reliable method of judging whether claims are false and research based on those kind of figures discredited as unreliable.

Nicknacky Fri 24-Mar-17 23:32:58

Ok I'm probably going to regret posting it but it's my experience and opinion as a sexual offence liasion officer in a Cid office.

We do a lot of investigation into a report of a sexual offence before we record it officially as a crime. As a result, sometimes (certainly more than 4%) we discover there was no crime committed or it was mistaken/malicious/whatever you want to call it. The government stats are taken from our crime reports that we create when we are satisfied that a crime has been committed. And that goes for all offences, not just sexual offences.

A lot of reports which aren't accurate done actually name a person so it isn't a case of people falsely naming a person.

Every report is taken very seriously and investigated as it should be although we are well aware that they weren't in the past but generally speaking they are now. And no, we don't routinely charge people for making false reports so I don't think that's an accurate representation either.

It might be geographical but it's my experience and you will struggle to find a officer which a similar working background to mine that will disagree.

Oh an we still investigated "dropped" complaints. Even if a witness has refused to co operate with an investigation we will still continue an investigation.

auntyhiro Fri 24-Mar-17 23:36:24

some strange myths being waved about

Because the conviction rate for rape is so bad:

Factually
conviction rate is currently at 63%
The conviction rate for report able crimes of all types is 57%

The conviction rate for burglary is 60% and that is considering DNA evidence, phone GPS records, stolen items being found in their possession

the treatment of rape victims by society and in court so shitty

No other type of crimes sees the identity of the accuser hidden. It is possible to make multiple accusations, admit the falsehood, then make some more with no prosecution

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/wales/10169257/Woman-who-made-a-string-of-false-rape-allegations-is-jailed.html

MyHamsterAteMyCat Fri 24-Mar-17 23:53:48

The problem is those 4% have made it difficult for real victims to come forward

I didn't report my rape to the police. It wasn't because of the fact that a small percentage of women have lied about being raped. It was actually the widespread belief that women run around making false accusations at the drop of the hat that put me off rather than a small number of proven false accusations themselves.

tabulahrasa Sat 25-Mar-17 00:03:24

"Factually
conviction rate is currently at 63%
The conviction rate for report able crimes of all types is 57%

The conviction rate for burglary is 60% and that is considering DNA evidence, phone GPS records, stolen items being found in their possession"

Are those statistics comparable though?

Anecdotally I know for example lots of burglary victims...but there was never a suspect actually identified never mind an arrest or prosecution.

I've met one rape victim who didn't know who her rapist was...and she still saw him and could describe him, unlike the burglary victims.

So if those numbers are from convictions from reported crimes, some are always going to be lower because of the nature of the crimes.

MyHamsterAteMyCat Sat 25-Mar-17 00:04:29

conviction rate is currently at 63%

The overall conviction rate is only around 6%.

That 63% figure refers to cases which reach court.

No other type of crimes sees the identity of the accuser hidden.

Her identity is only hidden in the press. The majority of reported rapes are not even reported in the press so it's a bit redundant really.

MyHamsterAteMyCat Sat 25-Mar-17 00:09:12

Incidentally the reason she has press anonymity in the first place is because rape victims (and victims of sex crimes in general) generally have a much shittier time than victims of other crime. There is still a massive stigma attached to being a victim of rape that simply does not exist for other crimes.

sonyaya Sat 25-Mar-17 00:21:46

Absent the power of omniscience it is impossible to say how many rape allegations are false. The nature of rape is that usually only two people are there and it's one person's word against the other's.

So while it is very difficult to prove that the rape occurred, it is equally difficult to prove if a complainant is lying.

Nicknacky Sat 25-Mar-17 00:24:33

Sometimes it's not that difficult. Yes the act of intercourse can be difficult to prove or disprove but there is far more to a sexual assault investigation than intercourse alone.

MyHamsterAteMyCat Sat 25-Mar-17 00:37:04

Sometimes it's not that difficult.

How though? How do you prove if the sex was consensual or not?

Nicknacky Sat 25-Mar-17 00:40:17

One case I had which I will clearly be vague about was very much driven by cctv and showed the incident couldn't possibly have happened as per the report, in fact I have two that spring to mind. One actually showed the reporter preparing her clothing in such a way to make the report to police.

Actual penetration is clearly harder to show consent or lack of.

But that's what I'm saying, the investigation covers more than just the immediate act. Before, during and after.

MyHamsterAteMyCat Sat 25-Mar-17 00:41:31

One actually showed the reporter preparing her clothing in such a way to make the report to police.

Wasn't that a high profile case?

Nicknacky Sat 25-Mar-17 00:42:49

No, never got that far. What case are you referring to?

Like I said, I'm clearly being deliberately vague!

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