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Prosecutions for rape accusations

(196 Posts)
Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 00:01:37

Was reading this just now;

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/dec/01/109-women-prosecuted-false-rape-allegations

Two things jump out. One that there is no rule restricting the police from treating someone making an accusation as a suspect in a different crime, relating to the same circumstances, of perverting the course of justice, which obviously has the implication referred to in the article, that the rape claim will not be properly investigated as it is already being treated as the basis for a different investigation.

The second that how in the hell are police so frequently 'proving' that the woman has made a false accusation? I mean we are always being told that rape prosecutions fail because of a lack of evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a rape took place, how are police finding sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone has not raped someone AND that they went to a police station and deliberately made an unambiguously false complaint knowing and understanding what they were doing?!

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 00:02:04

www.theguardian.com/law/2014/dec/01/109-women-prosecuted-false-rape-allegations

Oops

tippytap Thu 16-Jul-15 06:17:30

This is awful. I don't know the figures, but surely almost all men charged with rape please Not Guilty? Will the risk of a prosecution against the victim make someone think twice before reporting a rape or assault? Speaking for myself, it would.

Unless I was raped 'properly' by a total stranger brandishing a knife who also best me up, so I had some decent injuries, I wouldn't report. Why bother? If the man is charged, he'll probably get off.

If he isn't charged or is found Not Guilty, I could myself be prosecuted.

As to how the police find evidence to prove a wrongful accusation, I should imagine that juries are more ready to convict a woman of making a false report, than to convict a man of rape.

Because let's face it, we women should know our place.

textfan Thu 16-Jul-15 06:24:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 08:01:35

Unless I was raped 'properly' by a total stranger brandishing a knife who also best me up, so I had some decent injuries, I wouldn't report.

But there have been women to whom this has happened and despite forensic evidence and medical reports etc all agreeing the evidence supported their accusation the police never bothered with the suspects and lost evidence which was consistent and because it was a stranger they have been accused of making it up and jailed.

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 08:03:17

I saw a comment piece about that in the guardian text.

I just don't see why women should accept 'we can't prosecute men for rape because it is he said/she said but we CAN prosecute you for lying if we just don't really believe you'

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 08:05:17

What has happened in several cases is that the police, a couple of days after a complaint has been filed have decided to switch their focus onto suspicion of the complainant, have abandoned the rape investigation and begun threatening the complainant to drop the complaint or face court.

thedancingbear Thu 16-Jul-15 08:14:12

To be fair, the conviction stats for rape-related crimes are:

rape - around 2300 per year
perverting the course of justice - around 22 per year

So the suggestion that the police/CPS (organisations that, broadly, I have almost no time for) are routinely aggressively prosecuting victims for false rape allegations doesn't really stand up to statistical analysis.

I agree absolutely that there are isolated cases that stink the place out. I'd also concur with (I expect) everyone on this board that attitudes and approaches to the crime of rape need to change. But the claim that it's common practice for the authorities to try to turn things on their head doesn't seem accurate.

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 08:14:50

Reading about some of the cases has absolutely shocked me. I don't think I would ever report a rape, I'm now very glad that I never did and would not encourage anyone else to without explaining this to them.

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 08:18:41

No, there have been 109 convictions in five years. I'm not saying it is common practice, but that this happens at all and that there don't appear to be adequate safeguards in place to prevent it happening is enough to entirely discourage me from thinking reporting rape is a good idea. There is very little to stop it from happening to anybody, people seem to be entirely dependent on an individual officer's discretion/approach/beliefs. It's just inadequate.

thedancingbear Thu 16-Jul-15 08:26:20

No, there have been 109 convictions in five years

That's 21.8 a year isn't it? And surely most of those 109 are going to be justified prosecutions? Isn't the correct inference that the chances of the police trying to turn a genuine allegation on its head are extremely small (maybe 1 in 1000)? I agree that it's despicable when it does happen, though of course police malpractice isn't confined to rape cases

ChipsOnChips Thu 16-Jul-15 08:30:52

That case in the Irish Times is horrific. The rationale appears to be "but for your confession there'd be no case, therefore I'm letting you off" WTAF?!

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 08:38:35

I'm not sure it's ever justified to prosecute someone for perverting the course of justice even if they did lie.

If you read about some of the (many) cases what happening in them even one time is one time too many. Many times the police didn't bother to even investigate the rape allegation so how they could 'prove' it wasn't true I don't know. Also in one case where the prosecution was dropped they didn't even bother to do forensic tests and the prosecution was only dropped after another team took over the case, at which point the forensic evidence was tested and the perpetrator was convicted of the rape.

It is never acceptable that something like that should happen.

Other countries do not pursue such an aggressive prosecution of women making rape accusations and there is evidence (beyond the convictions of women) that police are threatening women to drop claims and massaging statistics - the actual successful convictions are actually the tip of the iceberg.

IKnowIAmButWhatAreYou Thu 16-Jul-15 08:44:03

I'm not sure it's ever justified to prosecute someone for perverting the course of justice even if they did lie.

I have to disagree with you there - the damage caused by false accusations is immense & wrecks/ends lives.

If it's conclusively proven that someone did lie, then they should face the full consequences of their actions.

IKnowIAmButWhatAreYou Thu 16-Jul-15 08:45:52

Other countries do not pursue such an aggressive prosecution of women making rape accusations

22 a year doesn't smack of "aggressive prosecution", not out of the huge amount of cases opened each year. Percentage wise it barely even registers...

fattymcfatfat Thu 16-Jul-15 08:47:55

Surely those that have lied about it need to be punished though. And there are some people sick enough to make something like that up. If they aren't punished, then others think they can just claim rape whenever they want, to get their own back on a cheating ex, or just someone they don't like etc, and that's what makes it so difficult to get a conviction for those who have been through the trauma. IYSWIM. And I say that as a survivor.

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 08:48:26

But there's no need to prosecute them for perverting the course of justice. If the police have a case, investigations have been conducted fairly and properly they could be charged with wasting police time. The risks to society of coming down so hard and to the individuals who face the risk of a miscarriage of justice are also high.

It's never right that police cease to investigate a rape after a few days and begin focusing on the woman. They should investigate the rape fully and properly before any decision is reached about whether an investigation into the woman should begin.

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 08:50:12

Did you read the comment piece?

fattymcfatfat Thu 16-Jul-15 08:54:18

But if they have lied and tried to or perhaps have, destroyed someone's life, then why should they get off lightly?
Rapists shouldn't get off lightly for the lives they destroy, so to lie and destroy someone's life that way (or attempt to) needs a tough punishment not a slap on the wrist tut tut naughty.
I do agree every allegation needs to be properly investigated first but once it's obvious the person has lied then that needs to be dealt with accordingly

Offred Thu 16-Jul-15 09:00:15

But lying to the police is not anything like the same magnitude of evil as raping someone. Rape and perverting the course of justice both carry the same maximum sentence. In other spheres things that people do to try and ruin another person's life, lies that they tell to police and others are not treated so harshly.

thedancingbear Thu 16-Jul-15 09:01:30

Offred, have a look at this www.cps.gov.uk/publications/research/perverting_course_of_justice_march_2013.pdf

and in particular case study 2 and case study 4. Surely people making allegations of this kind should not get off scot-free?

For the avoidance of doubt, my main concern here is not that women (or men) are prosecuted for false rape allegations - I think, in the grand scheme of things, false allegations ain't a big problem. Rather -

(i) if we convey to victims that they shouldn't report rape because the tables are likely to be turned on them, then that is damaging and not borne out by the facts

(ii) if we reduce (legitimate) convictions for false allegations to nil, then doesn't that undermine the perceived legitimacy of the system somewhat - i.e. people will perceive it's biased against men and that as such rape convictions will be seen as politically-charged and unsafe?

thedancingbear Thu 16-Jul-15 09:02:33

But lying to the police is not anything like the same magnitude of evil as raping someone.

Not in dispute. but it's still a pretty fucking shitty thing to do.

BakingCookiesAndShit Thu 16-Jul-15 09:03:34

The point is though, that a lot of specialist police officers openly admit that they go from an assumption that women lie about rape, and are therefore much more likely to stop investigating the allegation and start investigating the woman.

There's some interesting research on which women lie about rape, and curiously, it's not 'bitches who want to destroy men's lives', so it does strike me as strange that it's that worn out trope that keeps being dragged up every time this is discussed.

Could it be that society still believes that all women lie about rape?

Heaven forfend.

fattymcfatfat Thu 16-Jul-15 09:07:45

I see what you mean, but I know a woman who was recently convicted of perverting the course of justice as she lied to the police. Not about anything as serious as rape, but she lied and purposely tried to destroy another persons life. It wasn't to try and get herself out of trouble, it was to hurt the other person and to damage their reputation. So if that had been a rape accusation, that would make it worse and a heavier sentence would have been given (I think she served 3 months) its highly unlikely that a person would get the maximum for it and if they did then the way I see it is they will learn their lesson for trying to harm someone in such a way. (that is probably a bit harsh, but I have no time for people who think its acceptable to fling around accusations and not give a damn about the consequences that ends up having on real victims)

ChipsOnChips Thu 16-Jul-15 09:07:55

I can't agree with you offred

Whilst rape is undeniably horrific, lying about rape is also so.

Being wrongly convicted of any crime is a tragedy, but I'd say especially a sex crime. It would ruin the accuseds life.

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