Sex abuse and particularly the sexual abuse of children has been in the news this week.
- Tuesday, the news was that Michael Le Vell has been found not guilty on charges of child abuse. More on this later.
- Wednesday, news from India that a gang of 4 were convicted, and faced being sentenced to death, for the fatal gang rape of a student on a bus.
- Also Wednesday, Rape Crisis North London, in the wake of the Michael Le Vell aquittal, tweeted a link from the Guardian originally published in March this year, which sited the Crown prosecution Services statistics on cases involving violence against women and girls.
- Thursday, BBC Question time published statistics that contradict those of the Crown Prosecution service.
- Friday – A gang of nine men walk free on a charge of raping a girl because of what she posted on Twitter at the time.
As ever when sexual assault is in the news there re a lot of contradictions.
First the statistics. The CPS data, care of the Guardian the conviction rate for offences involving violence against women and girls has risen to 73%. They say:
In recent years we have worked hard to dispel the damaging myths and stereotypes associated with these cases. One such misplaced belief is that false allegations of rape and domestic violence are rife.
In the period of the review, there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and 111,891 for domestic violence. During the same period there were 35 prosecutions for making false allegations of rape, six for making false allegation of domestic violence and three for making false allegations of both rape and domestic violence.
So, according to the CPS, false accusations are less than 1% of the prosecutions. For the full CPS report see here: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS
But that’s prosecutions, not convictions. It does not take into account how many assaults were reported, or estimated to have taken place. The CPS only prosecutes where there is enough evidence to bring a prosecution, or where a prosecution is deemed to be in the public interest. Which is where the BBC Question Time link comes in.
According to their information, there are estimated at least 78,000 rapes in the UK each year, 16,041 re reported, 2873 are prosecuted, and there are 1,153 convictions. That’s a conviction rate of 40% which is well short of the 73% conviction rate in the CPS statistics. There are two possible reasons for this discrepancy: The conviction rate for rapes could be a lot lower than the conviction rates for other violent crimes against women, or the BBC statistics are just plain wrong.
To save you the time, page 27 of the CPS report shows that the conviction rate for rape is 40% which is what the BBC says. This is up from 34% the previous year. And if you take the number of men “This ratio does not take account of defendants prosecuted for rape but convicted at the Crown Court of another offence.” says the report. If you take those into account the percentage rises to 62.5%. Most men prosecuted for rape will be convicted of a sexual crime against women.
I’m coming back to Le Vell shortly.
In the public interest is one of the reasons the CPS prosecute.
Public interest takes two forms, in 1981 Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, was tried in the public interest. His plea of diminished responsibility because he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia was turned down because a trial was in the public interest because the crimes had been widely reported in the media. The guilty verdict of the Sutcliffe trial made little difference to the sentencing. Sutcliffe contines to be held in a secure mental hospital.
The other form of public interest is celebrities. It is seen to be in the public interest to prosecute celebrities. It was said by the prosecution in the Le Vell trial that it was not a witch hunt, but the way the case against him disintigrated I wonder if it would have ever got to trial if he’d been less famous.
Le Vell is now eager to get his career back on track. The Daily Star, home of lots of Celebrity gossip though short on hard news, says that Le Vell is likely to be in the next I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. “Michael would relish the chance to show the public what he is really like.”
Le Vell is an actor. What we are likely to see on I’m a Celeb will be an act. To find out what he is really like it would be better to go by what he has admitted to in court, under oath.
Michael Le Vell is the sort of person who would have a series of one night stands though married. The sort of person who would sleep with another woman when his wife, suffering from cancer was undergoing Chemotherapy. Michael Le Vell is an alcoholic. Which is why pictures of him ginning with a pint of beer in his hand after the aquittal make me feel sick.
Michael Le Vell, we know what sort of man you are, the sort you admitted to in court.