This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

The Truth About (Rape)

On Tuesday The Guardian will publish yet another article about how the police are failing rape victims. It is likely to state that 5% of rape allegations result in a conviction, that x% of victims withdraw their complaint, and a number of other statistics.

This will prompt the usual flurry of commentary from people who think that this means 95% of accused rapists are "innocent". That x% of victims are liars and that all streets containing police stations are filled with queues of women pointing at men they don't like and begging doctors to shove swabs inside them.

I don't know how many allegations of rape are false. I do know that I am more likely - I would dare to say FAR more likely - to attend an allegation of burglary or robbery that I have my doubts about, than I am to attend a "dodgy" rape. I also know that I am FAR more likely to attend an allegation of burglary or robbery that involves one of the following forms of persuasive evidence:
  • CCTV
  • Witnesses
  • Injuries
  • Missing items
  • Broken stuff
  • Supportive family
  • An unembarrassed victim
  • No links or past history between victim and offender
  • A victim who is visibly upset and traumatised
Rapes rarely produce this "gold standard" of evidence. When they do, they are often "stranger" rapes which will be solved fairly quickly, and a hefty prison sentence given out when they are.

A seasoned detective said to me recently, "Most 'rape' victims just shagged someone and regretted it later. They haven't been 'raped' at all." This is an honestly held belief by most detectives I know. As if women who regret sex immediately tell their husbands, then ring up the police, rather than just keeping quiet. Sadly, there is a handful of women who do do this, for whatever reason.

Unfortunately, most police officers lump together the above with the unbelievably drunk, those with learning difficulties/mental illness, those accusing a friend/ex/partner, those who are uninjured, those who didn't scream, those who aren't sobbing and clinging to the officer's arm.

I'll never forget speaking to a colleague who worked in a Sexual Crimes Unit for many years. The victim of one rape was a young student who had been raped whilst drunk one night. There had been no injuries, little in the way of struggling, witnesses who had seen her kissing the guy earlier in the night. She was absolutely calm and composed throughout the investigation and prosecution. Not a soul in the police force or court believed her. The night after she gave her evidence and was called a slut and a liar in front of her family, she hanged herself.

It doesn't mean she had been telling the truth. But now only one person will ever know, and THAT is the truth about rape.

Copyright of PC Bloggs.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in all good bookstores and online.

Rape Crisis is a charity that provides support and information for rape victims, and assistance to Rape Crisis Centres across the UK.
A proportion of proceeds from my book are donated to it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloggsy... you've seen the nail and well and truly hit it on the head... one of the best posts on a police blog I have ever read... I should know I've been with both Coppersblog and Inspector gadget from their early days! I too have dealt with many rape victims and had I been possessed with your wordsmithness I would have said exactly the same, only I can't now cos you said it first and I don't like to be accused of copying (not that I have never copied but I don't like to be accused of it).

Not Long Now

04 March, 2008 00:17

Blogger staghounds said...

Dead on as usual.

The murder conviction rate is well under 50%.

So, more than half those "corpses" are just faking it. Probably to get the insurance money, or a free autopsy and hearse ride.

I am always amazed by the courage it takes to report rape. I am certain that for every false (as opposed to unconvicted) rape allegation, there are many that genuine victims never make.

04 March, 2008 01:58

Anonymous Anonymous said...

that would possibly be one of ur best posts ever :D maybe even the best! and yes when i first discovered your fabulous blog i did go right back to the very beginning. im THAT sad....

but yes, nail on the head and all that, some excellent points and you've restored my hope that even when you've been in a little while it's not obligatory to turn into a police officer of your "seasoned detective" sort. thanks bloggsy :D

04 March, 2008 02:16

Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Sorry for the lack of punctuation/ "text" talk...

04 March, 2008 02:19

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Accept everything you have to say but if the victim can’t convince a jury what are you to do? Talk of changing the standard of proof in rape cases is frankly dangerous and not the answer

04 March, 2008 08:55

Blogger thoughts running through my head.... said...

well said.I could go on about similar cases,but you say it better than I ever could!
pmsl @ staghounds!

04 March, 2008 09:37

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also the truth about drink.

Given the absence of physical evidence or struggle, this should never have gone to court. An accusation is never enough, and the accusation of someone who was too drunk to have a reliable memory of events is even less so.

She has been extremely badly served by the prosecutors.

It would have been more in her interests to be told at the outset that, yes perhaps she was raped, but she will never be able to prove it and trying to will make the situation worse.

This unfortunate girl wasn't able to convince anybody, and sadly killing herself proves only that she was distraught, not that her memory was accurate.

04 March, 2008 09:46

Blogger uniform said...

A very emotive post born from experience in dealing and listening.

The problems of this crime have tasked the mind of the modern criminal justice system .
You correctly identify the 50/50 balance of evidence , direct evidence , complainants statements and forensic .

Unfortunately that's is the problem courts want "beyond reasonable doubt " and the 50/50 rule is a balance of probabilities . little wonder the conviction rate is so low.

The vast majority of rapes are someone known , stranger rapes who leave DNA are relatively easy to prove .

What to do ? personal culpability is a minor factor (she was wearing a short skirt , your honour,the famous contributory negligence statement by a judge ) but it is an issue and some defendants are accused falsely.

Modern society and the emancipation of women to choose their life is also not to blame , no does mean no

I suspect alcohol is at the heart of most of these matters , it's difficult to imagine a scenario of a meeting in a crowded place,with friends, and then back to my place/your place for drinks which is not misconstrued by men .

04 March, 2008 09:51

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post, well written - but I am afraid short on solutions. As a detective, I have been wondering for quite some time how the system *could* be changed to be fairer without being overly prejudicial for the suspect...

04 March, 2008 11:30

Anonymous Anonymous said...

""short on solutions""
How about allowing the disclosure in evidence of previous allegations of rape made against the defendant - whether proved or not.
Likewise - allegations made of rape before by the victim.
Thus those that commit date rape time and time again would get convicted - and those women that allege rape time and time again would be treated with caution.

04 March, 2008 12:07

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What of course does not help is the girl who reports that a taxi driver raped her.

The investigation revealed that the female had used her mobile phone to send a running commentry during the `rape` to a friend boasting that she had negotiated a free ride home from a taxi driver. The driver was arrested, interviewed and medically examined prior to this coming to light.

Unfortunatly the female was just treated like the idiot she was and not prosecuted for wasting police time.

04 March, 2008 12:18

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had the misfortune to be involved in the periphery of two rape accusations (not as defendant or victim). On both occassions, the victim made up the accusations after regretting having had sex. The first case went to Crown Court and collapsed when CCTV was discovered, which showed the victim giving the defendant oral sex, contrary to her witness statements. The second never made it to crown court, after text messages thanking the defendant for a great night were recovered from the mobile phone operator. She had made the allegations in order to divert parental disapproval. Perhaps these cases are unusual, but I would be inclined to treat the "atrocious" conviction rate with some caution.

04 March, 2008 13:57

Blogger butterflywings said...

First: *applauds* great post.

"I don't know how many allegations of rape are false."

Afaik 2 - 3% (the same as any other crime).

MOST rapes (around 85%) go unreported.

"I do know that I am more likely - I would dare to say FAR more likely - to attend an allegation of burglary or robbery that I have my doubts about, than I am to attend a "dodgy" rape. I also know that I am FAR more likely to attend an allegation of burglary or robbery that involves one of the following forms of persuasive evidence:

Missing items
Broken stuff
Supportive family
An unembarrassed victim
No links or past history between victim and offender
A victim who is visibly upset and traumatised"

I am somewhat concerned that any police officer would ever *not* attend a rape allegation.

Injuries - rape is not "real" only if the victim is badly beaten. Slighter injuries e.g. bruises may take time to come up...too often police dismiss this as "just rough sex" (not saying you personally would).

Supportive family...doesn't the lack thereof mean the alleged victim needs support even more?
Links or past history - but most rapes are perpetrated by someone known to the victim.

Unembarrassed victim and "visibly upset and traumatised" seem contradictory, and anyway...due to the nature of rape, most victims are going to feel embarrassed...and being calm and not showing any emotion, by the way, is NOT uncommon.

What seem like completely bizarre reactions, e.g. giggling...also don't indicate the complainant is making it up.

All these things result from trauma.

Most rape victims suffer PTSD to some extent.

The police don't routinely treat allegations of say, burglary with suspicion and interrogate the victim as to their behaviour, e.g. whether they were drunk, what they were wearing.

Someone is more likely to make a false allegation of burglary/ theft to claim on the insurance, than a false rape allegation.

I don't mean this to sound like some rant, otherwise I really thought this was a great post (and good on you for donating funds from the book to Rape Crisis).

It would be really interesting to hear more from you on rape, in fact...not often a police officer seems willing to talk about it. So if I may ask some questions (feel free to ignore, of course)...

What do you think could be done? Would you be in support of more training for police on rape?

Someone mentioned text messages being recovered from the defendant's this often done? It could work the other way, i.e. indicate guilt...if complainant had sent a text saying something like "how could you do that to me?" etc. or if defendant had boasted about the rape to friends...
what about online? Some sickos are putting videos of rapes online...would you be able to use that? Not to mention, again, boasts about the rape? Or making comments apologising for rape?

As for suicide...I think that *does*, you know, indicate the victim wasn't lying. Whichever anonymous it was...lack of visible injuries does NOT mean no rape occurred, and what do you mean about her memory being accurate? Crazy women making it up again?

anonymous (#9)
What? Because you know of TWO whole cases that YOU CONSIDER to be "false"...means women are all lying sluts and make these things up?
Giving someone oral sex does NOT mean they consent to full sex. Everyone has the right to say no, up to and indeed during intercourse.
Even the texts thanking the defendant for a good's not as unlikely as it sounds, rape victims can often continue to interact normally with the rapist in an effort to regain control.
And who are you to say why IN YOUR OPINION, they made stories up?
The logical conclusion of this kind of attitude is that women should only go out accompanied by a male relative, as under the Taliban...after all, being alone with an unknown male is asking for it, right?

04 March, 2008 15:47

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

butterflywings, thanks for the support - but please re-read my post. I wasn't suggesting for one moment that any police officer would NOT attend any allegation of rape. The point of my list of evidence was to make exactly the points you yourself have made about why they don't exist for rape cases.

04 March, 2008 16:50

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Interesting discussion here on the topic: /theyorkshergob/50726.html

04 March, 2008 16:56

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the comment
"CCTV was discovered, which showed the victim giving the defendant oral sex, contrary to her witness statements."

was meant to suggest that the victim denied giving the suspect oral sex. CCTV proved this to be a lie. If she lied about that why should a jury believe anything else she says.
You are correct that consent to oral sex does not mean she wasn't later raped but if a victim lies in one part of her statement then she can hardly complain if a jury don't convict based on another part of it.
That aside I think Bloggs has summed up why rape conviction rates will always be lower than for other crimes.

04 March, 2008 17:06

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Stats on rape given in a Guardian article a few months back (the source as I recall was ONS).

8% are proven to be false, not the 2 - 3 % you state. A further 37% are withdrawn by the complainant. Of the remaining 55%, 10% make it to court, 5% of which are convicted, which is near identical to other forms of violent crime.

One detective I have spoken to stated that in her 25 years she has dealt with nearly 100 rape cases, of which only one did not involve alcohol. This does not suggest that the women involved were to blame. It does however mean that 'facts' are often not remembered or open to speculation. From an investigative point of view, this is very hard to work with, and you have often lost before you have begun.

I am certainly not saying that most rapes are false, but the tone of your post seems to suggest that the police are deliberately under performing in this area because of some misogynistic agenda. The vary nature of the offence means that it nearly always boils down to one person's word against another's. What ever other types of evidence are thrown into the mix, this is often the nub of the issue. Most often the only thing that can be proved is that two people had sex, which in 95% of cases is not in dispute. I have been told by a doctor that there is usually more bruising etc in cased of consensual intercourse, and so injuries are often of little use, unless they are severe.

How can you ever know how much of anything goes unreported? Where did you get that number from?

Reference the case in which the lady was seen on CCTV engaged in oral sex. I do not know the case, but if she had claimed that she had made no sexual advances to the suspect, and then this was seen on camera, and she was shown to have lied, do you not feel that the case was rightly thrown out?

With regard to the poor woman who hanged herself, I do not agree that this shows she was telling the truth.


04 March, 2008 17:50

Anonymous 9ytg said...

Woman goes to the police, says she woke up after a drunken evening to find friend with whom she slept on the same bed having sex with her, told him to stop, he did, thought she should tell the police but doesnt want anything done about it and won't support proceedings, voila, one undetected rape on the books.
Man and woman have sex when both drunk, no witnesses, she has hazy recollection and says there is no way she would agree to it, he has hazy recollection and says it was fully consentual, this is also recorded as a rape which will result in the arrest and interview of the man but will never go to court. Another undetected rape. This is the picture behind the statistics, people doing stupid things when drunk expecting the police to make it all right and blaming them when they cant; where is Solomon when you need him.
The only way to increase the detection rates is to give more credibility to her than to him. This is fine unless "him" happens to be your son or brother in which case you will be glad the rules are as they are.
Sex has happened, but has a crime, when you know the answer beyond a reasonable doubt you will get a conviction. Also to the previous poster; if a man is arrested on more than one occasioon under similar circumstances this will be put before the court.
We also deal with a lot of offences where we are quite happy the man is guilty but are unable to prove it, we don't do these things on purpose as you should well know Ms Bloggs

04 March, 2008 18:20

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that Ms Bloggs is being honest about this offence. Yes it would be nice to know for certain which ones are truely crimes and whch ones (whatever the percentage) are false allegations.However this does not mean that we (the police) have to have a closed mindset when dealing with potential victims. Our job is to gather evidence and not be judge and jury, and so what if we know from the offset that the circumstances are such that the chances of conviction are remote, does that mean that we should approach such a serious crime in such a misguided manner. All those who have worked in the police have know officers regarding cases as a pile of c**p even before they know the full circumstances of what occured, just because drink and a night out have been mentioned. The nature of the offence will mean that it will always be hard to prosecute cases of that ilk even when fortunate to have a strong case, however we should not make the job even harder by our own bias which inevitably encourages poor evidence gathering and laziness when officers attend doubting any offence really occured. At the very least an open mind would do. Alas too often that is far from the reality.

04 March, 2008 19:27

Blogger Disillusioned said...

Thank you so much for posting this.

04 March, 2008 19:56

Blogger Emma said...

Having been on the receiving end of it at quite a young age by a Neighbour I admit I didn't report it because I didn't think I would be believed and it didn't really hit me properly until last year when I suffered a bad bought of depression. I still see the guy now and he makes my skin crawl to this day but he still carries on as if nothing happened..All I know is I said No...

Excellent post as ever blogsy..xx

04 March, 2008 20:12

Anonymous justacop said...

It seems that the ACPO 'lead' on rape has been reading your blog and he has a different view. So much for our 'leaders' knowing what they are talking about.

"ACPO lead on rape has criticised police 'mediocrity' in investigating rape cases amid controversy over the low conviction levels..."

Thank you Mr Yates for your support! Bloggs, your post however is better written and truthful.

04 March, 2008 21:27

Anonymous Anonymous said...

About false allegations of rape . would this match up with false allegations of sexual misconduct in divorce procedings.
And dont forget that , once in a while , males get raped and male children as well.

05 March, 2008 05:33

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there's no evidence of compulsion, isn't it normal defence tactics to attack the woman's character? Most UK women aren't expected to be chaste (some notable exceptions -and rape victims are shunned in some communities) but how many women are put off by the prospect of public humiliation?

As well as being nasty, I'm surprised that trying to prove someone's 'easy' succeeds as a defence at all. There are plenty of women that are proud to have a high libido. Why is this tactic still being used?

Several people have mentioned alcohol. With so many encounters taking place when both parties are intoxicated, meaningful consent becomes a quagmire.

05 March, 2008 14:45

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like the post and as a retired officer I have in the past mused over this problem. It is a problem which you deal with but offer no reasonable solution. How do you ensure that genuine rapists are put inside and how do you protect innocent defendants.
I sometimes feel that some jobs are put before a jury that should not have been proceeded with simply because it is showing that something is being done. The eventual acquittal simply brings the process into disrepute.
For what it is worth I believe that both parties in any such offence should remain anonymous until conviction. That a jury should have access to the precons of both individuals at the outset. They should also have access to any previous allegations made by or against the individuals THAT were not proceeded with. That may not obviously not exist but men that have been subject to previous complaints not proceeded with and women that have made similar allegations will have an effect.

05 March, 2008 19:03

Blogger Drugsblogger said...

Bloggs, this is a very honest and direct post - well done. Here's a thing though. One of our clients, a sad crack-addled sex worker told us she had been raped by her pimp just a few hours before she saw our staff. She was bruised and battered. We persuaded her to go with a member of staff to the local nick and report the crime and she agreed because she was tired and sore and wanted it to stop. What did she get? And remember a member of our staff was alongside - no rape suite, no examination, no forensics, no nothing. Our staff member was taken aside and told that 'she does this all the time'. So what? If someone claims they've been raped no matter how many times or how often it turns out they haven't it might be true. Now the word is around that it's not worth reporting a sexual assault or rape at police station x. Too bad.

05 March, 2008 21:02

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"'she does this all the time'. So what? If someone claims they've been raped no matter how many times or how often it turns out they haven't it might be true."

Indeed it might be true - this tenth time!!!
But how much time do you expect the Police to spend on someone who has made numerous previous unfounded allegations of rape?
Do the Police not have enough to do protecting people out there who don't make repeated false allegations?
What about the taxpayer who pays all their life and on the one occasion they need the Police urgently are in the queue behind your sad crackhead reporting her possibly third false rape of the year?
It's a classic case of "the boy who cried wolf"....
It is also an attitude that hopefully prevents people from reporting fase crimes - "If I report a false one I won't be believed the time something real happens".

The "'she does this all the time'. So what" attitude is akin to a Social Worker always trying to excuse and explain away the faults of people. People have to accept responsibility - and this woman who makes numerous false allegations not only does herself a diservice when a real rape happens to her - she shafts every real rape victim out there who is not believed.
False rape allegers are worse than the rapist scum!

05 March, 2008 21:47

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Hold on a minute last anon: what makes you so sure these supposed ten allegations have all been "unfounded"? Unfortunately it is very often the same women (or men) who get raped multiple times, just as it is the same few men who do the raping. Druggies, prostitutes, the mentally ill and the socially inept are far more vulnerable to rape than the bulk of society who only fall into the category when drunk. Men who rape know how to pick their victims, whether by guile or instinct, and it is often the women who are hardest to believe who get raped the most often.

All that said, it doesn't help us prosecute anybody, but a little open-minded is required.

05 March, 2008 23:24

Blogger Sage said...

It is so hard, rape isn't always black and white, sometimes it is very much shades of grey and hard to distinguish between actual and other. Doesn't make it any less real for the victim (whether it is the accuser or the accused and in some cases both).

As for the affects, usually long lasting and doesn't just impact on the direct connections, but also on family/friends etc.

06 March, 2008 14:49

Blogger butterflywings said...

Ach, sorry PC Bloggs, seems I misunderstood. Fuzzy head from flu/ excess Lemsip and painkillers will do that to you *rolls eyes*.

06 March, 2008 18:50

Blogger butterflywings said...

Still a bit mystified as to what you meant by being "more likely to attend" alleged rapes that are not "dodgy"? I'm probably being thick though.

anonymous: but that kind of attitude is probably why she lied! Can you see that the victim may have panicked and thought "if I admit I have him oral sex, that's it, the jury will think I must be a slut and wanted to have sex"...

06 March, 2008 19:48

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Butterflywings: "I am more likely to attend", because there's more of them.

06 March, 2008 19:59

Blogger butterflywings said...

*Doh* I see.
Sorry...that's what comes of fuzzy ill heads and reading news stories about police officers who DID tell someone reporting rape to piss off, too many drunken sluts alleging rape tonight...

again, sorry for that complete misreading and thanks for demonstrating that there are sympathetic police officers out there!

06 March, 2008 20:30

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Butterwings said
"the victim may have panicked and thought "if I admit I have him oral sex, that's it, the jury will think I must be a slut and wanted to have sex"..."

True. On the other hand she might have lied because she wasn't raped. Reasonable doubt.

Since there is unlikely to be independent witnesses a victim who lies and whose lies are demonstrated in court will have great difficulty persuading a jury her version of events is true.

I've never taken a statement from a rape victim but I would think one of the important things would be to stress very hard before the start would be the importance of the statement being completely truthful no matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable that might be. It must be very hard for victims to report rape but if they aren't going to be 100% truthful to the last detail they would be as well not bothering as they are just creating a loophole for guilty men to walk through.

I have no doubt that in rape cases as in all serious crimes many guilty suspects walk free from court. This is a better system though than many innocent suspects being locked up.

06 March, 2008 20:34

Blogger butterflywings said...

Oh and by that I wasn't meaning to have a go at the police generally, I'm sure the completely unsympathetic police who do that are in a minority...didn't mean to sound like an Angry Feminist Rant! Sigh!

06 March, 2008 20:41

Blogger butterflywings said...

anonymous: well yes, I agree that this should be stressed before the statement is taken...I just wish there was a world in which someone reporting rape *would* feel able to say "Yeah I did x and y sexual acts with him, but I had no intention of having full sex /changed my mind" and feel they would be fully believed...the perception is out there that the police and courts disbelieve rape victims, *whether that is accurate or not* and I fully admit the modern police are often less sexist and idiotic than the horror stories indicate - it is probably as much the perception that is wrong...the media have a lot to answer for...
in short, yeah, that lie was really stupid, but rape victims are traumatised and fearful of being disbelieved and consequently do stupid things.

So yes, both scenarios are possible. Actually I suspect if someone was fabricating an allegation they would have a more "coherent" story on the face of it...having calculated it first...but yes, both are possible and I am simply saying that the lie re: oral sex is *not* automatically grounds for *disbelieving* the allegation of rape, it doesn't have much to do with whether rape occurred imo.

I would never want the standard of reasonable doubt to be lowered, inevitably some rapists will go free as there is no proof. Sadly, rapists go free who shouldn't because the evidence is disregarded or overly questioned...afaik conviction rate for rape is lower than that for other violent crimes, maybe part of that is simply because, as is so often said, it's "one person's word against another's" but what often happens is that the rape victim is put on trial, rather than a fair trial considering the actual evidence of rape. I can't think of any other crime where witness testimony is routinely treated with such scepticism.

06 March, 2008 20:54

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

butterflywings - A defence QC will rip to shreds ANY victim or witness if there is the slightest error or gap in their account, regardless of the offence. To a defence solicitor it's a way in to get their client off, whether that is rape, murder, GBH or burglary. One could even argue that murder is more likely to get a more aggressive (or ludicrous) defence purely because of the possibility or likelihood of a substantial sentence, as seen in more than 3 30+ year sentences in the last fortnight. The difference as Bloggsy and most people have said is there is invariably significantly more evidence than in a rape trial.

Just as if 4 Police officers say the same thing then they are accused of making it up, but if they give different accounts then at least one or all is accused of lying, a victim can only tell the Police what he/she actually did and then leave it to the court to decide. Cracking post Bloggsy.

07 March, 2008 15:34

Blogger staghounds said...

Please don't forget that a conviction has to be a finding of guilt by individual jurors. You or I might not hold it against a victim that she has a high libido, dresses to attract, has a nose ring, or is poorly spoken. But the juror next to us might.

That's why defence lawyers are so eager to do anything to suggest any sort of "bad conduct" by victims or witnesses. They are hoping some juror will FEEL- not consciously think, and certainly not say out loud- some devaluation of the testimony.

It's almost never as overt as "she was asking for it", but it's certainly subtly "can you believe a person like this"?

07 March, 2008 19:43

Blogger butterflywings said...

sorry, missed the previous post by anonymous (whichever anonymous it was by).

I most certainly did not say that the police are *deliberately* underperforming. I doubt they consciously conspire to think Ha ha, let's not investigate this allegation properly...just that myths about rape do affect these things. I certainly think performance could be improved.

Oh and the statistic that 80 - 90% of rapes go unreported is there, too. I didn't just make it up. It's true, shocking, no?

I don't think it matters whether the victim withdrew her allegation etc...doesn't mean no rape happened, just that for *whatever* reason she didn't want to proceed. Maybe she just couldn't face the prospect of the trial, knowing she would be accused of lying and being a slapper. Equally, because the police decided to no crime a case does not mean she was lying. There may have been little evidence, and the police may sincerely have wanted to spare her a trial with no prospect of conviction...again, doesn't mean no rape happened.

According to this report:

2 or 3 % false allegations is more accurate, due to inconsistencies in the way the police recorded the decisions on rape cases.

staghounds - I agree. I like to think that if I were a juror I would do my best to be impartial, but as you say, it is unconscious.

metcountymounty - yes, I know how the justice system works, thanks. Should everyone, even rapists (and murderers, for that matter), get a defence? Of course. Should rape victims be questioned? Absolutely. But there is a difference between "Ms X, you have changed your story...can you explain" and "You're a lying slapper who regretted sex and is dragging this nice man through the courts".

Rape victims *are* ripped to shreds far, far more than other victims/ witnesses.

And often: there is evidence, but it's disregarded. E.g. bruises on complainant's body are dismissed as rough sex.

Reasonable doubt is not an excuse to create doubt where there is none.

07 March, 2008 21:06

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One used to fear for one's daughters. These days we fear for our sons. Their passage is through quite a daunting gauntlet and now there's the relatively safe passage given to women claiming assault. They are even encouraged at every turn to do so. Add this to the irresponsible 'I am never to blame' mindset and there's a recipe for injustice, grief, and ruined lives. I wonder how many students will breathe a sigh of relief and say, 'There but for the grace of God go I.'

A Cambridge graduate accused of a drink-fuelled sexual assault against another student was cleared yesterday following a trial branded a 'dangerous nonsense'.

Jack Gillett, 23, spent nine months under a cloud of suspicion and endured a three-day trial, during which he faced a jail term of up to ten years.

His 22-year-old accuser, who remains legally protected by anonymity, claimed he 'continuously' ignored her pleas to stop as he pulled off her clothes in his room at Trinity College then pinned her to the ground where he groped her and simulated sex with her.

The above letter is in response to yet another wild and false allegation of sexual assault, made by a woman whose identity should be published in the liklihood she does it again.

07 March, 2008 21:22

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Just because a case is dismissed by a court and even called a "nonsense", doesn't mean the rape never happened. Maybe the evidence was "nonsense". Maybe the victim was just a terrible witness on the stand. The truth is generally only two people will ever know the truth about most rape allegations - sometimes only one (where the victim was unconscious, for example).

And as for bruises being dismissed as "rough sex", actually most police doctors will tell you that bruises ARE a sign of consensual sex and true rapes rarely result in any injuries at all.

07 March, 2008 22:50

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

butterflywings, you appear to think that we are on opposite sides of the argument, we aren't, unless you've missed some of the sarcasm or misread a few posts here we are arguing the same point. I think it is abhorrent that victims are allowed to be ripped apart by defence solicitors who 'justify' their actions as defending their client to the best of their ability, even if that does mean by attacking the victim almost as viciously as the suspect is alleged to have done, and undoubtedly causing even more psychological damage in the name of a legal defence.

Rape is by it's very nature more psychologically damaging than it is physically, its not about sex or even about the violence. It is about exerting complete and utter psychological control by one person over another, and the human mind can't deal with that in many cases, which is the main reason behind many unreported rapes and most definitely the reason behind post-rape suicides. I personally have only ever seen one stranger rape victim as one of the first on scene and perhaps a dozen or so rape victims where the victim knew the suspect. The stranger rape was brutal and the guy eventually was caught and got 7 years. Some of the others were shown to be false allegations (either admitted or withdrawn) which does in no way help the genuine victims who should be protected by the legal system and not practically raped again in the witness box.

07 March, 2008 23:18

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A binge-drinking woman who accused five innocent men of rape walked free from court.

Tracy Brooks, 26, wasted massive amounts of police time when she made two false allegations against two friends within the space of a month last summer.

The men were arrested, questioned, held for hours in custody and faced the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence if her claims were believed.

But weeks later, she came clean and told detectives the allegations were false.

Several years ago, Brooks, a self-confessed binge-drinker, falsely accused three other men of rape in separate incidents, Newcastle Crown Court was told.

In 2001 and 2002, she made complaints against two former boyfriends and in 2004, she told police she had been raped by a friend's boyfriend.

But the judge said he could not take these incidents into account in passing sentence because she had never been formally cautioned or charged in relation to them.

Instead, Brooks, of North Shields, North Tyneside, was given a 32-week suspended prison sentence and a three-month night-time curfew.

She had admitted two charges of perverting the course of justice.

That is why male police officers are sceptical of women who cry rape.

That is why women victims are given a hard time in the witness box.

That is why parents are worried about their sons these days.

08 March, 2008 06:24

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very interesting debate and one well worth having, especially given the intelligent way it is being conducted.

My twopenn'orth, FWIW...I am a male SOIT officer and have been for 3 years. I have dealt with about 15 cases in that time ranging from minor sexual touching to rape by way of "I have no idea what happened to me, I think I might have been raped but I was too pissed to know".

Unfortunately, the latter category is the most common and almost completely impossible to investigate in the absence of eyewitnesses (rare) or CCTV (also rare). If someone does not know if they have been raped, how on earth am I supposed to convince a jury? If anyone thinks this is far-fetched, my last 3 complaints have all been, sadly, of this nature.

I always approach every victim with an open mind and great sensitivity, but I am rigorous in my questioning and investigating. This is always uncomfortable for both me and the victim, but it has to be done to be fair to everyone involved and as every bobby on here will tell you, that has to include any potential suspect. I have seen numerous males locked up and investigated for rape/sexual assault when all they did was have sex with someone they met that night or in one case, try to help a heroin addict with taxi fair.

Now, of course, there are genuine victims out there and many do not report it the police and there are many reasons for that which I am not addressing in this comment. Any time I come across someone I consider to be genuine, I will move heaven and earth to make sure they get the best I and my colleagues can give. But if I am cynical about reported sexual offences, it is because, a) I am paid and trained to be that way and b) My overwhelming experience shows me that some women are extremely likely to report rape/sexual assault when in fact they either have no idea about has happened or in fact had sex and then regretted it afterwards. I know a lot of people find this hard to believe, including yourself Bloggsy, I think, which suprises me given your usual hard-headed realism. I think this has been the first time I have disagreed with a post of yours. That said, I have to say that the post was well-written and thought-provoking.

The above are unpalatable but true and I dislike the sub-text which often runs through discussions like these, that the police are lazy and incompetent when investigating rape and that we are somehow doing something wrong by challenging an account. We absolutely have to, no matter how difficult the victim finds it - it will be far, far worse if the matter goes to Court. The crucial thing is how the victim is treated and how the quesitons are asked.

The fact that I am cynical about one supposed victim does not take away my ability or willingness to investigate another genuine victim's complaint (and I always err well on the side of caution) any more than a woman agreeing to have oral sex with someone means that she cannot then be raped.

In common with most police officers, if I had a magic rapist-detecting device, I would gladly walk round with that in one hand and a cleaver in the other. Unfortunately, all I have got is my training, compassion, experience and common-sense to guide me and I use them to the best of my ability.

08 March, 2008 09:26

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon above, what you put far more eloquently than I is also my experience and that of the officers I work with. It is the big elephant in the room that everyone is scared to make public because they would be shredded in the media.
A lot of what we have is a matter of reclaiming virtue, ie "If I did that I cant be the nice well brought up girl I am meant to be."
Therefore "I must have been raped" Result:Virtue remains intact.
Dont confuse cynicysm with scepticism.

08 March, 2008 16:28

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't confuse unbelievable with false.

08 March, 2008 18:27

Blogger butterflywings said...

metcounty: apologies if I misread your post.

Re: bruising and "rough sex" : I don't get it. I just can't understand how consensual sex leaves bruises - and how do police doctors know, unless they studied people who have had consensual sex? NOT the same thing as "alleged rape victims where the case was dismissed or an acquittal resulted", as everyone here will know of course. You would have to ask a sample of people who had consensual sex and did not make rape allegations.

Call me laughably naive or something, but I seriously can't imagine how consensual sex would leave bruises...all I can go on is my own experience, of course.

Also, there is a difference between bruises indicating someone being held down etc., and hit/ punched to stop them struggling, and an accidental injury during sex.

Of course, I know that not all rape victims can fight back and not all rapes leave any marks.

I am simply saying that if I was on a jury, if there were bruises that seemed consistent with rape, well, I'd probably be a bit more likely to convict given the other evidence. If there were no marks, it would *not* make me think *no* rape occurred but would make no difference one way or the other.

08 March, 2008 21:07

Blogger butterflywings said...

Oh and do *not* mean to seem confrontational in fact doing my best not to be. I seem destined to come across as token Militant Feminist when actually yes, I know (most) people here are on the same side...

08 March, 2008 21:17

Blogger butterflywings said...

I have posted about rape on my explain where I am coming from...
which is NOT "the police are all misogynist pigs who don't bother to investigate rape" or "all men accused of rape are guilty and should be thrown in jail", strangely enough.

There is a lot of crap believed about perhaps if I misread stuff people write which is somewhat ambiguous, it's not that I am trying to assign the worst possible motive...more that I spend too much time trying to argue with morons of the "she was asking for it" variety. Sigh.

08 March, 2008 21:24

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

butterflywings, in exactly the same way that forensic scientists study varying states of decomposition by leaving a body to rot in a controlled environment, doctors have done studies for years on the bruising patterns and injury types caused during sex, both consensual and otherwise. The only way to simulate rape injuries is again to have participants to have extremely violent sex and then catalogue the injuries, thereby allowing the doctors to have an informed and professional opinion about injuries found on a victim. Basic fight/defend injuries (palms of the hand inside forearms, face/back of head etc) are indicative of violent sex. The reason that some victims of rape do not suffer from injuries (vaginal tearing, inner thigh bruising) is because of the fear and control used causing the victim to put up little or no struggle and offering no resistance thereby requiring the attacker to use higher levels of force. The signs and symptoms are by no means exhaustive but again all allow the professional doctors to make informed decisions based on a collected set of evidence. The injuries themselves do not and cannot be used as evidence of rape by themselves but when put into the perspective of a specific situation the evidence's true value is proved.

08 March, 2008 21:55

Anonymous STO girl said...

In my experience as a serious sexual offences officer, complainants of rape often have small marks where an elbow has knocked the floor/wall, or some minor scratches. Big grip marks as of a struggle are rare and usual only in cases where a violent struggle has happened, or stranger rape where the victim was grabbed off the street. 90% of rape victims describe "soreness" which is aching muscles/internal and cannot be seen visibly or proved by a doctor. You can be held down extremely hard by someone and show absolutely NO injuries whatsoever -people find that hard to believe but it has been researched and is true. Likewise, consensual sex DOES produce bruising. Without meaning to be rude, last commenter you sound a little naive if you think it doesn't! - maybe most women don't want to admit it but I don't mind saying it's true!!!

09 March, 2008 10:02

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I am sure that there are some reports of Rape that are badly mishandled, I also think the authorities carry more blame than they deserve when it comes to the low conviction rate for rape.

After all in many rape cases the provable facts are that two people went off together and sex happened. Everything beyond that is purely a case of one person's word against another which must make it very difficult to prove anything beyond reasonable doubt. This does not means that I do not think these rapists should be convicted, just that I can see why this could be very difficult.

Andrew Wimble.

10 March, 2008 14:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Fantastic post, thanks for that. I've been raped multiple times by my ex partner (impossible of course because partner rape can't be real rape) and once when passed out drunk at a party (what am I talking about, surely the struggling and throwing up and begging him to stop was all just me being hazy and I just regretted it later). I've never reported it to anyone cos I don't trust the system.

If anyone needs help healing from rape you can find it on a message board run by survivors for survivors


15 March, 2008 15:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Everyone should look up


21 June, 2008 12:45


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