PROSECUTORS and police have defended having the worst conviction rate for rape.
It comes as the Hampshire police force area was revealed to have a conviction rate of 38.5 per cent, compared to Cumbria with 80.6 per cent.
The Crown Prosecution Service Wessex said the conviction rate for 2014/15 dropped by about 10 per cent and branded the drop as worrying.
In total, 59 cases resulted in a conviction but there were 88 unsuccessful cases in Hampshire. Of those 88 cases, 67 were due to a jury acquittal.
CPS Wessex said rape is complex and is one person’s word against another, with alcohol consumption leading to disputes.
An increase in historic allegations has also contributed to the drop as they are difficult to prove to a jury, the CPS said.
The low conviction rate was revealed in a report that showed a record number of people in England and Wales are being convicted of violent crimes against women, with victims being targeted over the internet.
At CPS Wessex, prosecutors have handled 972 more cases of violence against women and girls in 2014/15.
Kate Brown, chief crown prosecutor at CPS Wessex, said: ‘These crimes are pernicious, insidious and they have a long-lasting effects on victims.
‘They can present a real challenge to prosecute as often these offences are not recent, victims have been traumatised by these crimes and the court process can be daunting.
She added the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences unit, set up in 2011, has prosecuted more than 100 rape and sexual offences cases in 2014-2015.
A specialist lawyer now helps in domestic abuse cases, with 867 convictions. The CPS said Hampshire body-worn video helps.
Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes said: ‘The constabulary has worked hard to improve the way it gathers evidence to present to the CPS, such as forensic capability, digital case files and the use of body-worn video, and the support given to victims of violent and sexual crime.’
Detective Chief Superintendent Ben Snuggs said the force does everything possible to make sure victims are confident in reporting crime.
He said: ‘We are also acutely aware that there has been a higher number of rape cases resulting in no conviction after trial.
‘We recognise the impact this can have on victims of rape and sexual violence and so our investigators and specially trained officers are working hard to ensure we do everything we can to gather good evidence and support victims.’