Perverting the course of justice

Getting to grips with the basics – perverting the course of justice. 

by Robert Whiston  FRSA   Dec 31st 2010

For many people the idea of someone being charged with making a false allegations will immediately conjure up the impression that the person will probably be charged with perjury.

However, few false accusers are ever tried under the perjury laws (see Appendix A). Instead they are usually prosecuted for “perverting the course of justice.”  The reason for this is that perjury tends to imply an ‘under oath’ secenario and or in a court setting, whereas making a false statement to the police and sending them on a wild goose chase is wasting police time (itself a crime).

Somewhere in the middle is “perverting the course of justice”. It is somewhere between (and after) simply wasting police time and before the court room setting of lying under oath, which is perjury.
For someone making a false rape allegation the charge of perverting the course of justice could be the right and most appropriate charge, or it could be that it gives the CPS a greater chance of securing a conviction, or it could be that “perverting the course of justice” permits the judge a greater degree of discretion in the penalty he chooses to award.

Much of the following is taken from the official manual containing advice to lawyers acting on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, or CPS, circa  2007. For those interested in these technical nuances it might prove rewarding to  compare the guidance notes for CPS staff (which can be found at  with today’s manual (i.e. Dec 2010). 

Perjury is regarded in text books as one of the most serious offences possible because:

” . . . . it wholly undermines the whole basis of the administration of justice” –  (see R v Warne (1980) 2 Cr. App.R. (S) 42). Judge Chapman

Perjury is regarded as serious regardless of whether it is committed for a trifling set of circimstances or a most serious case. For example, a car passenger who falsely states that the driver did not drive through a red light as alleged, will be dealt with as severly as one who gives a false alibi to a bank robber.

There are other reasons why women who are caught by police making false rape allegations are not tried under the purjury laws. One of the most powerful is that the offence is ‘triable’ only on indictment but carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment (and/or a fine).

“Perverting the course of justice” on the other hand carries only a 2 year penalty. ‘Perverting the Course of Justice’ is an indictable offence under Common Law, but perjury is statute law and an indictable offence under the Perjury Act 1911 (sect 1). [1] However, another source, Archbold 28-1 to 28-28, states that it carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The ‘course of justice’ – and therefore it potential for pervertion – starts when an event has occurred from which it can reasonably be expected that an investigation will follow. Or an investigation which has actually started, or legal proceedings have actually started or are about to start.

R v Cotter and Others [2000] TLR – In this case it was held that ‘the course of public justice included the process of criminal investigation following a false allegation against either an identifiable or unidentifiable individual.’

The offocial sentencing guidence is fairly arbitary. Consider, for instance, these three ‘official’ examples, all involving false allegations of rape.

1. R v Merritt [2006] 1 Cr. App. R.(S.) 105 – In this case a husband was accused of rape and held in custody for 9 hours; sentence reduced to 4 months imprisonment (reviewed by authorities). 

2. R v Fletcher [2006] 2 Cr. App. R. (S.) 24. – Here false rape allegations led to the victim being in police custody for 17 hours and then waiting 3 months before being told that no further action would be taken. The sentence of 2 years imprisonment upheld.

3. R v Beeton [2009] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 46.  – The appellant made false allegations of rape against two young men, in respect of one over a period of months and having a profound effect upon him.  Sentence reduced to three years imprisonment.

The offence of perverting the course of justice overlaps with a number of other statutory offences. e.g. Criminal Attempts Act 1981, Criminal Justice Act 1967,

The offence of perverting the course of justice is sometimes referred to as “attempting to pervert the course of justice”. It does not matter whether or not the acts result in a perversion of the course of justice: the offence is committed when acts tending and intended to pervert a course of justice are done. The words “attempting to” should not appear in the charge. It is charged contrary to common law, not the Criminal Attempts Act 1981: (R v Williams 92 Cr. App. R. 158 CA).

General Charging Practice

In an effort to achive uniformity of pratice and standardise prosections the CPS issues guidance called “General Charging Practice.”

The first criterion listed gives guidence when selecting the appropriate charge(s), i.e.  it should reflect the accused alleged involvement while allowing the court the degree of discretion in any sentence it sees fit to impose.

The second  criterion listed is that there should be no longlist of changes no ‘overlaoading’. The choice of charges should be the clear and simple in presentation. There should be no ‘overloading’ of charges by selecting more charges than are necessary in an effort to ‘encourage’ the accused to plead guilty to a few charges. Nor should this technique be used where a charge  is not supported by sufficient evidence in order to encourage a guilty plea to a lesser allegation (charge).

For some, a closer reading of all the criteria will prove an invaluable insight into how the whole court process operates.

Appendix  A

The table below shows the number of Perjury cases in England & Wales between 1996 and 2000 (source: Home Office RDS).

Year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Cautioned 45 52 42 37 17
Proceeded against 220 238 209 160 186
Found guilty 152 173 176 114 135


The next table (below) shows the number of Perjury cases in England & Wales for the years prior to that, ie between 1994 and 1997.


Perjury Data England and Wales only (1994 – 97)
Code Offence Description   1994 1995 1996 1997
67/01 Perjury and false statements (also false declarations and Caution 33 17 16 18
  representations made punishable by any statute) Prosecution 59 60 60 77
  Perjury Act 1911, Sec.1 Criminal Justice Act 1967, Sec.89. Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, Sec.106 Conviction 35 50 49 49
67/02 Perjury and false statements (also false declarations and Caution 88 31 29 34
  representations made punishable by any statute) Prosecution 140 172 151 161
  Perjury Act 1911 except Sec.1; Criminal Justice Act, 1925, Sec.36; Country Courts Act, 1984, Sec. 133; Mental Health Act, 1983, Sec. 126(4); Mines and Quarries (Tips) Act 1969 Sec.12(2) (in part) Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994, Sec.75 Conviction 109 143 109 124
    Total Convictions 144 193 158 173
Source : Home Office RDS



[1] See CPS ‘Sentencing Manual’ (April 2010)


Britain’s Benighted Women MPs

Anonymity: the enemy of justice ?

Britain’s female MPs are wading through a sludge of unenlightenment. The July debate on Rape Anonymity in the House of Commons revealed the extent to which most of them are bogged down in the quagmire and factually out of their depth.

Take for example, Maria Eagle MP; from the July debate (Hansard; 8 July 2010: Column 561). She speaks of rape as an offence that “can be a serial offence” and continues with the assertion that:

      “Perpetrators of rape often do not stop at one offence; they continue their offending behaviour. . .”

It is possible to define all offences as “serial” as well as just a one-off offences – it is not exclusive to rape but as we shall see later is it is actually less true of rape than of other offences.

In addition, from the tables and graphs provided in various blog sites, such an assertion cannot be made without heavy qualifications (a variety of examples can be found at each of the following URLs; ; ; and

In the parliamentary debate not more than half dozen vociferous voices, including those of Caroline Flint, Yvette Cooper, Glenda Jackson and Maria Eagle set about demonising the private members Bill. [1] The latter, Maria Eagle MP, claimed for instance, that:

 “ . . .95% of rapes are not reported to the police-these are figures taken from the joint inspection of the Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).”

It is therefore a pity to learn that the HMIC never cites the source for this “fact” in their publication (or in previous publications). Appendix A (below) displays a table including publications by the HMIC and Crown Prosecution Service.

Maria Eagle’s speech in the House of Commons was one seeking to ensure that factors which might deter women from coming forward would not be eliminated. However, the rise in rape claims would undermine that claim since they are not simply maintaining a high level but are increasing year-on-year (see Fig 1).

Fig 1.

It is unfortunate that she should then switch her focus to how much more difficult it is to catch serial rapists with the inflection that one-off rapists are also difficult to catch. Firstly, she forgets the obviously, namely that around 90% of victims know who their assailant was/is, and secondly, serial rapists are, in fact,  a minority even a rarity among adult rapists.   

NB. The relevance of 1986 (arrowed) with regards rape numbers will become apparent later in the text.

The only difficulty facing the authorities is not being unable to identifying the person but having enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

Her statement that, “It has been recognised for decades that gaining convictions is hard” really takes the biscuit.

 “Gaining convictions” will remain “hard” for as long as over 55% of reported rapes are false (see Fig 2) and never reach court.

Making a rape claim is the easiest thing in the world. What is definitively hard about a rape claim is the disproving of it and shaking off the after-taste of such a slur when unfounded.

Fig 2.

Fig 2 shows the Gross number of rape claims made (Series 1) compared with the Netted down figure (Series 2) once false allegations have been removed. False allegations have always been a feature of reported rapes with numbers escalating as more women are “encouraged” to come forward.

Fig 3 (below) shows the breakdown of rapes reported to the police (2006) and why so few proceed to trial. In 80% of cases the police are satisfied that there is so little evidence that the case would not make it to trial or the judge would stop proceedings for the flimsiness of evidence. Another 6% are viewed by the CPS as having no reasonable prospect of success.

Fig 3.

The data in Fig 3 was made available in June 2010 to the women MPs who spoke in the July 2010. it was not mentioned once.

Undaunted, Maria Eagle tried in the July debate to connect the attrition figures as showing how hard it is to convict the guilty. Given Fig 3 one has to ask “Oh, really !” The conviction rate is clearly shown as 8%, i.e. approx half the 14% of cases that proceed to trail (a ratio borne out by the Stern review of rape and, proar to that the publication in Sept. 2009 of, “How the panic over rape was orchestrated” (Straight Statistics.

 The conviction rate for rape is, in fact, higher than for all serious crimes except murder (see Fig 3). A defendant is more likely to be convicted of rape than for attempted murder or manslaughter.

Fig 4.

The question of whether this is due to the abolishing of any need for corroborative evidence in rape cases but where it is still a requirement in, say, manslaughter cases will have to wait for another day.

Meg Munn MP also majored on the “fact” that rapists were serial rapists. In an exchange of correspondence during June 2010 she wrote:-

 “In my experience of working with sex offenders, it is extremely unusual for someone to offend on only one occasion”

The sources she cited in correspondence were Wolfe (in the US, and Ray Wyre (in the UK), together with Abel et al.(1987), Weinrott & Saylor (1991), Lisak & Miller (2002). Looking at these it became apparent that they were far from convincing and some decidedly lacked credibility (e.g. remit, sample size, methodology, deductions, etc).

In the exchange it later transpired she was talking only about chid molesters and rape of children which could be shorthanded to the very different sub-category and strange world of paedophilia. Some may construe her mixing up this sub-set with the matter at hand, i.e. anonymity for rapists, to be a little less than honest.

Meg Munn, and all the other women speakers in the debate, touched on how they “knew” from data and reports that rape convictions were low and reporting of rapes and other sexual assaults was low. Leaving aside the second aspect, Fig 1 clearly demonstrates that women are not slow these days in coming forward to report a rape.

Not only is this false information but it unswerving repletion indicates a common source. And as if to counter statistics to the contrary Meg Munn believes that:

To rely on figures for conviction does not tell us anywhere near the whole story regarding sexual offences.

Her position is hard to reconcile with her next utterance, namely, and paradoxically that:

I absolutely believe in the rights of people accused of crimes. I have worked with people who have been falsely accused of child abuse and know how devastating this is. It is essential that at the evidence gathering stage that this is done thoroughly so that the chance of someone being charged falsely with rape is minimised.

The perception that rapists’ rape over and over again is not an uncommon one but is misplaced. Clearly, some rapists do repeat offend but most do not.

The compulsion to re-offend among serial rapists may be the same or different propelling force that apparently leaves paedophiles incapable of stopping themselves.

The following graphic (depicted as Fig 4) is taken from the above (Police Research Study  No 144) shows that of the 1,057 serious sexual offenders over 360 had no previous conviction for an offence – sexual or otherwise.

Caroline Flint MP, writing in The Independent claimed that, “Every 34 minutes a rape is reported to the police in the UK.”[2]

Fig 5.  (click to enlarge)

She also claimed that “tens of thousands of rapists” are “getting away with it every year – going uncaught and unpunished, denying their victims dignity and justice.”

Caroline Flint’s opening sentence begins; “Every 34 minutes a rape is reported to the police in the UK.”  If that were true, then the number of reported rapes would be over 17,000 pa (approx 2 p/h x 24 x 365 days = 17,520). Fig 1 (above) indicates we have some way to go before reaching 17,000.

Arithmetic has never been a strong suit of women advocates and this is born e out by the parroting of patently spurious claims made by women MPs. If there are tens of thousands of rapists and all of them were caught we would not have enough prison capacity to house them.

Additionally, Caroline Flint is also of the position that rapists are serial offenders and offend in “double digits” numbers.” If all or most rapists are serial rapists, as seem to be the inference, then the number of rape per year must be fast approaching one million (90,000 rapists x 10 rapes (i.e. double digits) pa = 900,000 pa).

She then offers up in support of her position the extreme case of taxi driver John Worboys (2008), as if he was typical rather than most atypical.

Ms. Flint sees granting anonymity to defendants as turning the clock back and rejecting “the steady progress over the past decade” (could she be referring to the gradual loss of a defendant’s right of cross-examination in rape cases ?)

In a parody of her words what could be more pernicious to the adminstation of good justice  than to single out rape victims but not rape defendants for anonymity for special treatment ? Doesn’t the singling out of rape victims for anonymity carry the clear inference that rape victims are less reliable, less credible ? Or could it be that the ‘80%’ figure of cases dropped by the police does that for the public and authorities ?

She is concerned that a policy of equality, i.e. of granting anonymity to defendants would somehow reinforces the myth that women who report rape are lying.

Why should she be so concerned about that aspect unless she knew there was more than a grain of truth in it ?

Throughout the debate the contributors all raised the same points and conveyed an impression of like-mindedness or either of being couched or deriving their information from only one perspective.

This apparent singing from the same hymn sheet was characterised by Meg Munn who expressed in her emails what the other women MPs were thinking but had not articualted namely: 

“. . . .. I have yet to hear a convincing argument as to why those charged with rape should be granted anonymity while those who charged with murder or sexual assault on a minor should not.”

Equally one could retort, “I have yet to hear a convincing argument as to why those bringing charges of rape should be granted anonymity.”

Perhaps the greatest argument fro granting anonymity to rape defendants is suicide. Many have entertained the idea many more have had it flicker across their consciousness. Unfortunately some have not been able to draw back from its attraction. British rocker Mick Hucknall was almost driven to commit suicide in the late 1990s after he was falsely accused of raping a secretary.

Contemplating suicide should never be seen as an admission of guilt, rather it is the male reaction to an assault on personal dignity to which there appears no escape. Shakespeare and the world’s literature is full of such confirmations of a man’s dignity and its place as a reason for continued living.

Reportedly, Hucknall was and is furious that the media were banned from identifying his accusee as a result of British law that protects the women (for life) but not the man. He said,

“It was the only time in my life that I ever contemplated suicide. I thought, ‘I just can’t handle this, I can’t leave the house, what will people think?’

“That was the lowest point in my life.”

“Even now I think it’s disgusting that the law meant my name was brandished around the world, even though I was entirely innocent, never charged or prosecuted, and the accuser was allowed to stay secret. It was beyond belief.”

The downstream consequences not only affect men but all women too. Take Mick Hucknall post accusation life style as an example. he decided it was “a kind of perverse favour” because it was a wake-up call for how he was leading his life and the assumptions that accompanying a normal life. Thereinafter he became far more circumspect towards women.

He was forced to reconsider his priorities – and this process is happening to all men whether they have been falsely accused, or whether they know of, or have heard about, someone being falsely accused.

Women cannot be and are not regarded any longer as reliable, dependable,  a supprt through life and/or as a life-partner. instead they are increasingly seen as the very opposite; a liablilty of the most dangerous kind.

Paradoxiacally, Meg Munn writes in her June emails that she is an absolute believe in the rights of people accused of crimes.

“Having worked with people who have been falsely accused of child abuse and know how devastating this is. It is essential that at the evidence gathering stage that this is done thoroughly so that the chance of someone being charged falsely with rape is minimised.”

Rape as a ‘hot button’ topic has been with us since the mid 1980s. In 1986 Woman’s Own magazine undertook a survey into rape and 25,000 readers responded. Only 12% (or approx. 1 in 8), claimed to have been raped, but of this 12%, 76% said they had not reported it to the police.

To convert this information into concrete numbers we can say, in approximate terms, that 30,000 women out of 250,000 claimed to have been raped and that 22,800 failed to report it, ie 200 did report it to the police.

The Woman’s Own survey followed a 1983 Research Study (No. 76) undertaken by the Home Office into rape allegations. This found that 93% of sexual assaults “uncovered” in Scotland (via the BCS, British Crime Survey) were not reported to the police. The can be said to mark the beginning of the modern era of the history of rape, ie 1983.

Home Office Research Study No 85 (1985) found the number of reported sexual assaults was also very low in England & Wales (see date line and trend line in Fig 1, above).

Usefully for those wishing to highlight this problem area and make out a case for this subject, ‘hard numbers’ are absent. Again and again in the literature, and in footnotes citing research, we are asked to rely on percentages of totals we cannot even guess at.

In “Murder and Serious Sexual Assault: What criminal histories can reveal about future serious offending” (Police Research Study, No 144, 2002), 36% of the serious sexual offenders had no previous convictions (this is a general category of only the very serious of sexual offenders and so must include all rapists). (

Much more recent data (2009) shows that this proportion has remained constant and that rapists who re-offend by raping again represent only1% of all offenders.

The next article will contain more information about this last component in a jig-saw that is habitually misrespresented.


 Appendix A

 Table A.  Findings on the prevalence of false allegations of rape 
 Authors Year of study Country % of false allegations
 HMCPSI [i] 2000 & 2005 UK




 Ingemann-Hansen et al [ii] 1999-2004 Denmark 10.5%
 Feist et al 12 2003-2004 UK 8%
 Kelly et al 18 2000-2002 UK 8.2% or 3%#
 HMCPSI & HMIC [iii] 2000 UK 11.8%
 Jordan [iv] 1997 New Zealand 41%
 Harris & Grace 19 1996 UK 10.8%
 Manser  [v] 1990 UK 13.7%*
 Kanin  [vi] 1978-1987 USA 45%

[i] HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (2007) Without consent: A report on the joint review of the investigation and prosecution of rape offences. London: HMCPSI.   

[ii] Ingemann-Hansen O, Brink O, Sabroe S, Sorensen V, Charles AV. Legal aspects of sexual violence – Does forensic evidence make a difference? For Sci Int 2008; 180: 98-104

[iii] HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate/HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (2002) The Report on the Joint Inspection into the Investigation and Prosecution of Cases involving Allegations of Rape: A CPSI and HMIC joint thematic inspection.

[iv] Jordan J. Beyond belief? Police, rape and women’s credibility. Criminal Justice 2002; 4(1): 29-59

[v] Manser T I. Cases of serious sexual offences – a survey. The Police Surgeon January 1991 (38): 4-27

[vi] Kanin EJ. False Rape Allegations Arch Sex Behavior 1994; 23: 81-92


[1] Namely: Fiona Mactaggart (Slough, Labour), Hazel Blears (Salford and Eccles, Labour), Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East, Labour), Cathy Jamieson (Kilmarnock and Loudoun, Labour), Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Kilburn, Labour), Caroline Flint (Don Valley, Labour), Meg Munn (Sheffield, Heeley, Labour), Russell Brown (Dumfries and Galloway, Labour),Denis MacShane (Rotherham, Labour).

[2] “Anonymity is an enemy of justice”, Caroline Flint MP. The Independent Monday, 7 June 2010

Greek Myths of Rape and Today

“Leda and the Swan – and other myths about rape”

Speech delivered by


 The David Jenkins Professorial Lecture,

Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine

7th May 2010

Left: Dr Guy Norfolk is a specialist in forensic medicine and was elected President of the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, established by the Royal College of Physicians in 2006.


Mr President, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for the honour you have done me by inviting me to deliver the David Jenkins Professorial lecture.  As I stand before you, I am conscious of the fact that I have the opportunity to ensure that the memory and reputation of David Jenkins lives on and is celebrated this evening.  This is an opportunity that I do not take lightly as David was a dear friend who had a huge influence on forensic and legal medicine through his long life of exemplary endeavour in the specialty. It truly is a privilege to be delivering this lecture in his honour.

In preparing for this lecture I have undertaken a literature review and wish to talk about rape and, in particular, some of the myths that surround the subject.

The Rape of Leda

Myths were part of the religion in ancient Greece and modern scholars continue to study them in an attempt to throw light on the religious and political institutions of the Ancient Greeks and their civilization.  I have taken for the title of this talk one such Greek myth, namely the rape of Leda.

The story is familiar enough.  Zeus was attracted to Leda and, assuming the shape of a swan, raped her when she was having a swim. The rape is said to have taken place on the same night that Leda slept with her husband King Tyndareus.  As a result of these couplings, Leda subsequently gave simultaneous birth to Helen of Troy, daughter of Zeus as well as the twins Castor and Clytemnestra, children of her husband. 

Zeus, the father and ruler of all the gods of Ancient Greece, was notorious for his numerous dalliances with mortal women.  Indeed the tales of Zeus’ philandering were part of a scandalous, and to us astonishing, view held by the early Greeks of their gods, who they saw as all powerful but nonetheless sharing in human vices such as vanity, jealousy and sexual promiscuity.  Indeed, one could almost argue that the myths catered for the salacious voyeurism of the ancient Greeks, just as the gossip columns of the tabloid press do for us today.  Thus, if there had been a popular press in those days, one can easily imagine the headlines (Figure 1).

Figure 1

The rape of Leda was a well-known myth during the Middle Ages, but emerged more prominently in the Italian Renaissance, when the story developed erotic overtones.   Leda’s rape has been depicted in countless artistic renderings and has been illustrated by both da Vinci (Figure 2) and Michelangelo (Figure 3).  Interpretations of the story can also be found as far afield as sculptures in Madhya Pradesh, India (Figure 4) to modern hotels signs in Berlin (Figure 5).   ( Note: it was thought unnecessary to  include Fig 4 and Fig 5 in this version).

What is interesting about all these artistic interpretations is that they depict Leda’s attitude as highly ambiguous at best.  Thus, Leonardo da Vinci’s interpretation, far from depicting a scene of rape, looks more like a Victorian photograph of a doting couple and the sculptures illustrated appear to show Leda in a state of erotic compliance.

It was not, perhaps, until William Butler Yeats published his sonnet ‘Leda and the Swan’ in 1928, that one gets an image of the destructive nature of rape.  Here Yeats describes Leda’s helplessness and terror in the face of a sudden assault. It is an unambiguously brutal rape after which the victim is indifferently discarded.

The poem ‘Leda and the Swan’ by W B Yeats (1928) has been deleted for the purposes of this site.

The confused interpretation of the Rape of Leda from the times of the Ancient Greeks to the modern day perhaps reflects contemporary confusion and controversy about the offence of rape in general.  Some of that controversy and confusion has been fuelled by the perpetration of myths that have arisen through misguided academic research and ill-informed political initiatives.  My address this evening aims to debunk some of those myths.

Rape in England & Wales

Rape is a terrible crime – a crime that happens too often.  Victims may be women, men, children, people of all ages and all social groups.  It is a unique violation that can cause severe and long lasting harm to victims.  In addition to the immense personal cost to the victims there is also a financial cost to society.  In 2003-04, the overall cost to society of sexual offences was estimated at £8.5 billion, with each rape costing over £76,000. [1]  Much of this cost is made up of lost output and costs to the health service resulting from long term health issues faced by victims.

Whilst it is impossible to know for certain how frequently rape occurs, official crime statistics show that in England and Wales in 2008/09, there were 12,165 rapes of women reported to the police. [2]  The results of the British Crime Survey suggest that only 12% of women who have been seriously sexually assaulted tell the police about it, [3] so we can extrapolate that there are over 100,000 rapes of women in England and Wales each year (equivalent to about 270/day). 

Conviction rates for rape

“There has been progress in tackling rape; but the fact is conviction rates are far too low.” [4]   –  Solicitor General, Vera Baird QC MP

Only about 6.5% of reported rapes result in a conviction.  This figure has been the subject of much political and media attention. [5]  Whilst some may have found the figure helpful to use as a campaigning tool for an improvement in the way rape cases are dealt with, the figure is misleading and needs to be considered in greater detail.

The way the conviction rate for rape is calculated is unusual and no such rates are published or even measured for other crimes so comparison is difficult.  ‘Conviction rate’ usually describes the percentage of all the cases that are brought to court that end in a conviction.  However, when dealing with rape, the term has come to describe the percentage of all cases recorded by the police as rape that end up with someone being convicted of rape.  The use of a much lager denominator has the inevitable consequence of producing a much lower figure for the conviction rate.

Attitudes towards rape and their influence on conviction rates

The unusual way of calculating conviction rates in rape introduces the risk that the cause of the apparent low 6.5% rate in the UK may be misattributed.  For example, in June 2009, the Solicitor-General, Vera Baird, suggested that it was myths about rape that were skewing the deliberations of jurors and resulting in the low conviction rate.  This belief led her to call for judges to give directions to jurors not to assume that the victim was “asking for it” because of the way she dressed, her behaviour or her demeanour.  [6]

Baird correctly highlighted some of the common myths held by members of the public about rape victims.  Some of these myths were exposed by a survey conducted by Amnesty International in 2005 which showed that more than a quarter of respondents thought that a victim was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was wearing sexy or revealing clothing and about one third thought likewise if the woman was drunk or acting in a flirtatious manner. [7]  It was noteworthy that there were very few gender differences in these attitudes; with the only stand out difference relating to male opinion that dressing in a certain way can make a woman responsible for rape.  

In a similar vein, research with mock jurors suggests that many still mistakenly expect rape victims to fight back against their attacker, to sustain serious physical injuries, report the offence immediately and appear tearful and distressed when reporting. [8] [9] So, while there is no doubt that there are many misconceptions about rape victims, was Baird correct to claim that jurors were unable to put aside these stereotypes when deciding the guilt or innocence of a man being tried for rape ?  Certainly, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, urged caution before jumping to that conclusion, saying “We can’t launch off from an uncertain base.  We can’t be blind to what proves to be reality but we must be sure it is a reality and not a view of a particular individual”[10]

So, let us look at the evidence ?  The definitive answer appears to have been provided by Professor Cheryl Thomas and research she conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Justice about the fairness of the jury decision-making process. [11]  Thomas found that, contrary to popular belief and previous government reports, juries actually convict more often than they acquit in rape cases (with 55% of cases that go to a jury resulting in a conviction).  She found that other serious offences have lower jury conviction rates than rape (Figure 6) and concluded that juries are not primarily responsible for the so-called low conviction rate in rape allegations.  Furthermore, her observation that there were high conviction rates for some female complainants and low conviction rates for some male complainants challenged the view that a failure to convict in rape cases is due to juror bias against female complainants.

Attrition rates

So, if the conviction rate of cases going to a jury is 55%, what is the significance of the often-quoted six per cent figure ?  The figure is better referred to as the attrition rate and means that out of every 100 cases of rape recorded by the police, six of them will lead to a suspect being convicted of rape.  The attrition figure has been the cause of considerable concern and, in order to make sense of the figure, it is important to understand the reasons a proportion of the 100 cases reported to the police will not proceed through the system to the courtroom and end in a conviction.  At the police stage of the investigation cases may not proceed because of:

a)      No crime – this covers cases recorded in error; those where the offence took place in another jurisdiction; where there is credible evidence that no offence took place; and false allegations.

b)      No further action – includes cases where an offender is not identified; where the victim withdraws; and cases in which it is deemed there is insufficient evidence to proceed with charging the suspect.

Cases that proceed to the Crown Prosecution Service may be discontinued if the victim withdraws at that stage or where there is considered to be no realistic prospect of obtaining a conviction.  At the court stage, further attrition may occur if the suspect is acquitted or if he is found guilty of a lesser offence than rape (about 6-7% of cases result in a conviction for a lesser sexual offence, providing an overall attrition rate of 12% – 13%). [12]

Comparable attrition rates

So is the attrition rate in the UK as bad as suggested ?  A comprehensive review conducted in 2009 of all the reliable studies on rape and attrition from 5-English speaking countries with similar legal systems suggested that our figure of 12% of cases that end in a conviction for rape or another sexual offence is not untypical.  The study gives a comparable figure of 14% for the United States and Canada, 11.5% for Australia and 17.5% for Scotland. [13]

Data on attrition rates for other crimes in the UK are not routinely published but in August 2009, Ruth Alexander reported comparable attrition rates for a number of other crimes on the BBC Radio 4 show ‘More or Less’ (Table 1). [14]

Table 1.  attrition rate for:  
Attempted murder 14%
Robbery 10%
Cruelty to and neglect of children 9%
Rape 6.5%
Burglary 4%
Violence Against the Person 4%
Criminal Damage 1%
Attrition rate for crimes (Source: BBC “More or Less” August 28, 2009)

Furthermore, analysis of flows through the Criminal Justice System during 2008 suggests an overall attrition rate of 6.7% for all recorded crime in England & Wales (table 2). [15]

Recorded crime 4,702,500 (100%)
Offences detected 1,335,800 (28%)
Charged or summonsed 698,800 (14.8%)
Found guilty at court 316,800 (6.7%)
Calculated attrition rate for all recorded crimes 2008 (Source: Criminal Statistics: England and Wales 2008) 15

Does a headline ‘conviction rate’ of 6% matter ?

Does any of this matter ?  The widely quoted six per cent conviction rate has the real potential of deterring rape victims from reporting the crime to the police.  After all, a victim might argue, what is the point of telling the police if there is only a 6% chance of a securing a conviction ?  Furthermore, the six per cent figure may not only discourage victims from reporting but may also distort the way complaints of rape are investigated and prosecuted.  Calls from politicians and lobbyists to increase the conviction rate in rape are only justified if the goal is not solely an increase in the headline conviction rate itself, but rather an increase in the conviction rate of the guilty.

For example, exhortations from a senior police officer for investigators to “absolutely accept the victim’s version of events unless there are very substantial reasons to do otherwise”  [16] are no doubt well-intentioned.  However, it is important to point out that, although the police should always handle complainants with sensitivity and a demonstrable willingness to take on board the complainant’s account, the investigator’s primary role is to keep an open mind throughout and to pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry, even if these point to the innocence of the suspect.  Believing the complainant’s account above all else runs the risk of jeopardising a proper investigation.

Conviction rates – a summary

  • The true jury conviction rate for rape is about 55%
  • There is no evidence that juries are responsible for the supposed low conviction rate in rape
  • The attrition rate of 6% for rape is not that dissimilar to other countries and other crimes in the UK
  • The way in which the 6% conviction rate has dominated public discourse on rape without proper explanation, analysis and context has been extremely unhelpful   

 False Allegations

The question of false allegations comes up time and again in any discussion about rape, with some arguing that the number of such allegations is large and others insisting that the prevalence is grossly exaggerated.  Before looking at the evidence relating to the prevalence of such allegations, it is worthwhile considering what we mean by the term ‘false allegation’ and reflecting on some of the reasons people may make false complaints of rape to the police.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of any consensus about what constitutes a false allegation and, indeed, an allegation could be considered false for a number of different reasons (Figure 7). [17]  At its most basic level, a false allegation can de defined as the report of a rape made by a complainant who knows the event never occurred – in other words a deliberate fabrication.  This definition implies a conscious or malicious motive on the part of the complainant, a definition that some argue is too narrow because it fails to include falsely held or erroneous memories where, for example, a complainant mistakenly believes she may have been assaulted while asleep, unconscious or affected by alcohol/drugs. [18]  Guidelines for the police require that a complaint of rape should only be ‘no-crimed’ as a false allegation if ‘the complainant retracts completely and admits to fabrication.’ [19]  These are strict criteria, although evidence suggests that reports of rape may be no-crimed for reasons other than the complaint being false or malicious. ’ [19] 

Figure 7. False allegations of sexual assault 
What do we mean by false ? Retracted ?
Malicious ?
Not Proceeded with ?
Not proven ?
Mistaken ?
Coerced ?


Reasons people have made false allegations of rape include: [18]   [20]  

  • Revenge – for example, to retaliate against a rejecting male or a difficult neighbour
  • Cover up – to provide an alibi where, for example, the complainant is in fear of pregnancy of discovery of illicit consensual intercourse
  • As an attention or sympathy-seeking device – said to be the most socially harmless motive as usually no-one is identified as the rapist
  • Mental illness
  • Financial gain – suggested by some but probably the least clear cut of the motives [21]   [22]

The prevalence of false rape allegations

 When discussing false allegations commentators frequently refer to the ‘official’ rate of false allegations as being about 2% and state that false rape complaints are no more common than for other offences.  However, it is difficult to find the empirical evidence on which these claims are based.  Indeed, it has been suggested that the claims have now become so engrained that they are simply repeated over and again without any reference to supporting evidence at all. [23]

 There are a number of very good reasons to critically evaluate the reliability of the ‘official view’ about the rate of false allegations.  Firstly, without solid evidence about the prevalence of false rape complaints there is a danger that opinion may be unduly influenced by sensationalist media coverage about women who make false allegations – media coverage being no substitute for empirical research.  Secondly, incorrect or unreliable assumptions about false complaints provide a poor basis on which to develop appropriate policy responses to rape.  False allegations also raise the possibility of miscarriages of justice; they divert attention from genuine victims and may deter such victims from reporting rape to the police.  Finally, in the words of Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge; “every occasion of a proved false allegation has an insidious effect in public confidence in the truth of genuine complaints, sometimes allowing doubt to creep in where none should in truth exist.” [24]  This erosion of public confidence may have the dangerous consequence of creating unjustifiable scepticism amongst those charged with investigating and prosecuting all allegations of rape.

 Research evidence on the prevalence of false allegations

Over the years a number of studies have looked at the prevalence of false allegations of rape (see Table 3).  These studies suggest that the true prevalence of false rape allegations is considerably higher than the two per cent official rate.  This inconsistency should not be viewed as a peripheral matter of little concern.  It is an important issue not only to complainants but also to those suspected of rape.  For example, if the true rate of false rape allegations is considerably higher than for other serious offences, further consideration may need to be given to the vexed issue of anonymity for suspects/defendants of rape as well as for complainants. 

Earlier this year, Baroness Vivien Stern published an independent review into how rape complaints are handled by public authorities in England & Wales. [25]  She states that faster progress could be made in improving the treatment of rape complainants if more solid evidence about false rape allegations was in the public domain and recommends that the Ministry of Justice commissions and publishes independent research to study the frequency of false allegations of rape compared with other offences, and the nature of such allegations.  This recommendation is to be welcomed as the research is long overdue.

Table 3.  Findings on the prevalence of false allegations of rape 
Authors Year of study Country % of false allegations
HMCPSI [26] 20002005 UKUK 8.3%10%
Ingemann-Hansen et al [27] 1999-2004 Denmark 10.5%
Feist et al [12] 2003-2004 UK 8%
Kelly et al [18] 2000-2002 UK 8.2% or 3%#
HMCPSI & HMIC [28] 2000 UK 11.8%
Jordan [29] 1997 New Zealand 41%
Harris & Grace [19] 1996 UK 10.8%
Manser  [30] 1990 UK 13.7%*
Kanin  [20] 1978-1987 USA 45%

[ # ] This figure should be 4.4%.  Out of 2,643 reported case of rape there were 216 (8.2%) that the police considered were false allegations. The authors looked at limited data from 144 of these cases and found 44 where the false allegation was probable, 33 where it was possible and 77 where it was uncertain.  They recalculated the proportion of false complaints on the basis of the probable and possible cases (they say n=67 of 2,643) to obtain the 3% figure.  However, they should have used n=77 (44+33=77) and failed to increase this by a factor of 216/144 to arrive at the projected number of false allegations for the full sample of 216 cases.

False allegations – a summary

  • There is little evidence to support the official 2% rate of false rape allegations
  • Research is urgently required to look into the prevalence of false rape allegations compared to other offences and the nature of such allegations

The gender of sexual offence examiners

It has long been accepted that complainants of rape should be offered a choice when it comes to the gender of examining forensic physician [31] but there are now increasing calls for an all female service.  A paper by Chowdhury-Hawkins et al purports to provide empirical evidence that female staff should be considered as the primary gender of staff providing services to complainant’s of rape. [32]  In order to support this contention, the authors quote three papers that are said to suggest that “both female and male victims prefer female staff caring for them following sexual assault”.  I have been unable to obtain a copy of one of the three papers cited, but analysis of the other two papers provides disappointingly little evidence to support this suggestion.

In one of the studies, conducted in 1995 in the Metropolitan and Sussex police areas, Temkin interviewed 10 forensic physicians involved in examining complainants of sexual assault, nine of whom were female. [33]  Although Temkin quotes one police officer who told her that “most women prefer women doctors” no other evidence is presented that female victims express a gender preference of examining doctor and there is no mention of male victims at all.  Temkin goes on to describe some attitudes amongst the female doctors interviewed that tended for the most part to be judgemental not to say punitive in their attitude to many women who reported rape.  For example, some of the responses she quotes are:

  • If people are dressed in an alluring way, they are inadvertently giving out overt messages… they are saying yes without saying yes.
  • I am afraid that when I hear there’s been a rape my automatic reaction is to assume that it’s going to be a waste of time…most of them are absolute rubbish.
  • I would think that at least half are girls who decide to cry rape and then change their minds.

The judgmental attitudes of these female forensic physicians would be viewed as totally unacceptable today and it is not surprising that Temkin concludes her research by suggesting that, although more needs to be done to recruit female sexual offence examiners, it does not follow that female doctors are well suited to performing these examinations simply because they are female.

Irreparable bias

The other paper quoted by Chowdhury-Hawkins et al as supporting the view that both male and female rape victims prefer to be examined by a female doctor actually provides no empirical evidence of a gender preference amongst complainants of either sex. [34]  Indeed, it explicitly excludes consideration of male victims and concludes “that, on its own, recruitment of women FMEs is an insufficient response to the needs of rape complainants”.  Although complainants were concerned by the lack of choice they were offered regarding the gender of the examining doctor, the gender did not appear to be the deciding factor in complainant’s dissatisfaction with their medical examination. Whilst the ability to offer choice of clinician gender is desirable the authors consider that the use of “a professional with a real claim to expertise in such sensitive examinations” was the most important factor in meeting the needs of all concerned – the complainant, the police and the court.

The findings of Chowdhury-Hawkins et al have been criticised as being methodologically flawed not least because the study introduced an “irreparable selection bias” by failing to question any respondents who had experienced acute sexual assault care by a male doctor or male counsellor. [35]  Chowdhury-Hawkins et al found that 81% of female complainants expressed a preference for a female doctor, which is in line with the 76% of women attending a family planning clinic who expressed a clear preference for a female doctor to undertake a pelvic examination. [36] However, one reason that women attend a family planning clinic rather than their GP is because they prefer to be examined by a female doctor and the authors of this paper acknowledge that this selection bias is likely to have resulted in a higher figure than otherwise would have been the case.  In community based studies without such a selection bias 43% [37] and 52% [38] of female patients expressed a preference for a female doctor to conduct a pelvic examination with 51% and 42% expressing no preference respectively.

However, clinician gender preferences of rape complainants are likely not only to be linked to the intimate nature of the medical examination, but also to the fact that the complainant has just been the alleged victim of an assault by a man.  Women with a history of sexual trauma reported significantly higher levels of anticipated anxiety during intimate examination when clinician gender was male. [39]  Taking this into account, together with one other UK research paper that suggests that 83% of complainants have a preference for a female examiner, [40] it seems reasonable to conclude that the vast majority of female complainants of rape would prefer to be examined by a female doctor.

Male complainants of sexual assault

But what of male complainants ?  There can be no doubt that, since the 1980s, the work of feminist campaign groups has done much to publicise the plight of rape victims and improve services for women who have been raped. However, it has been suggested that the publicity that rape has received as a feminist issue has contributed to the isolation experienced by male victims of rape. [41[  It is important that the needs of male complainants are not forgotten when considering our response to sexual assault. 

Official crime statistics reveal that there were 964 rapes of men recorded by the police in England & Wales during 2008/2009. 2 However, it seems that male rape victims, like their female counterparts, are unlikely to report their assault to the police. [42]  Indeed, the British Crime Survey suggests that only 6% of men who have experienced a serious sexual assault report it to the police, compared to 12% of women3.  Thus, the actual number of male rape victims is likely to be about 16,000 per years in England and Wales.

And what of the evidence about clinician gender preference amongst male complainants of rape ?   Certainly, two of the three papers quoted by Chowdhury-Hawkins et al as providing evidence to support their view that the majority of male complainants prefer female doctors are sadly wanting in such evidence and, in fact, do not consider male victims at all.   Their own study included only nine male complainants, of whom 3 expressed a preference for a female doctor, one for a male doctor with the remaining 5 expressing no preference.  Given the selection bias of the group studied and the limited number of men in the study, it would seem dangerous to assume that one can generalise from these findings. 

Larger community-based studies conducted elsewhere amongst men undergoing intimate examinations provide conflicting results.  Thus, in one study 51.5% of adult male patients expressed a preference for a male doctor when undergoing a genital examination. [43]   By contrast, amongst adolescent males, the preference for a female physician during a genital examination was higher (49.2%) than preference for a male physician (39.1%).  Clearly, further research is required before we can make any firm conclusions about clinician gender preference amongst male complainants of rape.

Gender of sexual offence examiner – a summary 

  • The evidence suggests that the majority of female complainants of sexual assault would prefer a female forensic physician to conduct their sexual offence examination
  • The evidence is less clear for males
  • Providing an all female service may deter some male complainants from undergoing medical examination
  • For all complainants, the professionalism and expertise of the examining doctor appears more important then the gender
  • The current level of research evidence does not support the marginalisation of skilled and empathic male forensic physicians from sexual offence work

A Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in every police force

There is strong evidence that SARCs are successful at providing appropriate treatment to complainants of recent sexual violence. 18 40  However, in terms of criminal justice outcomes, there is no firm answer to the question of whether, or to what extent, SARCs reduce attrition.  Given that there is also an important gap in knowledge about the range and effectiveness of different models in the expanding SARC network, calls for a national, multi-site study of SARCs and their effectiveness appear well founded. [44]

Nonetheless, given the wide disparities in levels of service offered to complainants of sexual abuse in the UK, [45] a Home Office pledge in 2008 to “more than double the current number of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs), to ensure that they are available to all victims of sexual violence by 2011, [46] was widely applauded.  However, by the following year this pledge had been modified slightly to “a commitment to have a SARC in every police force area by 2011”. [47]  This latter policy may not be so well conceived.

Police force boundaries have evolved over the years primarily on the basis of county borders.  The populations served by each police force vary dramatically in terms of size and healthcare needs and the decision to create a SARC in every police force area appears to have been taken for political rather than strategic reasons. 

Analysis of the numbers of rapes recorded by each police force area in 2002 indicates that there were fewer than 150 rapes reported to 15 of the 43 (35%) police forces in England and Wales. [18]  Creating a SARC in these police force areas would result in the facilities only being used a few times a week.  Without a considerably higher throughput of clients, staff are unlikely to develop the comparable expertise of those working in busier SARCs and the service provided will not be cost-effective. 

This was one of the considerations of a Department of Health Working Group set up to draft guidelines for the examination of adult complainants of sexual assault that I had the pleasure of chairing.  The Working Group recommended that responsibility for providing services to complainants of sexual assault should be transferred to the NHS and delivered through the creation of regional centres of excellence, to be known as Regional Sexual Assault Referral Centres. [48]  These Regional SARCs would be ‘consultant’ led and would be responsible for: 

  • Undertaking the majority of sexual offence examinations in the region
  • Training and development of sexual offence examiners
  • Delivering quality assurance and clinical governance for the sexual offence service
  • Providing expert evidence for the courts
  • Undertaking research

Whilst the recommendation that the funding and commissioning of forensic medical services should be transferred from the police to the NHS has met with wholehearted support25 the specific Government commitment to have a SARC in every police force area remains.  It seems to me that this commitment is likely to waste precious resources and hinder the more strategic approach to service delivery recommended by the Working Group.

Sexual Assault Referral Centres – a summary

  • The funding and commissioning of sexual offence medical services should be transferred from the police to the NHS
  • The commitment to provide a SARC in every police force is well-intentioned but misguided
  • Sexual offence medical services would be best delivered through a smaller number of regional centres of excellence


Mr President, Ladies and Gentleman, as I hope I have demonstrated, rape is a unique crime surrounded by many myths and misunderstandings.  Just as, over the centuries, the ambiguous depiction of the Rape of Leda sent out confusing messages about the very nature of rape, so have more modern myths about rape run the risk of confusing the thoughts of those who genuinely seek to improve the way rape is investigated and prosecuted.  For example, for no other offence are there such concerns about a conviction rate that is so regularly and widely quoted without any proper explanation, analysis and context.  For no other offence is there so much controversy about the level of false allegations.  I hope that I have been able to establish some of the reality, as far as it is known, about rape as well as identifying the need for more research so that we can gain a greater understanding of rape in all its complexities and develop a far more evidence-based approach to this terrible crime.


[ Dr Guy Norfolk is also the author of an article  ‘Rape victims are being failed by the medical evidence’ , published 11th  May  2006 ].


[1] HM Government (2007). Cross Government Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Abuse.

[2] Walker, A., Flatley, J., Kershaw, C. and Moon, D. (2009) Crime in England and Wales 2008/09. Volume 1: Findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 11/09.

[3] Povey, D., Coleman, K., Kaiza, P. and Roe, S. (2009) Homicide, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2007/08. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 02/09.

[4] Government Equalities Office Press Release (September 22, 2009) Harman. Johnson, Baird: Review of Rape Complaints.

[5] See, for example: The Guardian (March 14, 2009) Crime where only 6.5% of cases end in conviction The Mail (May 15, 2009) Rape audit ordered as figures show Britain has ‘lowest conviction rates in Europe’  

[6]  The Times (June 15, 2009) Beware rape myths, judges to tell jurors

[7] Amnesty International UK (2005) Sexual Assault Research Summary Report

[8] Ellison L, Munro VE. Of ‘Normal Sex’ and ‘Real Rape’: Exploring the Use of Socio-Sexual Scripts in (Mock) Jury Deliberation. Social & Legal Studies (2009); 18(3): 291–312

[9] Ellison L, Munro VE. Reacting to Rape: Exploring Mock Jurors’ Assessments of Complainant Credibility. British Journal of Criminology 2009; 49(2): 202–219

[10] Lord Judge calls for jury system that caters for computer generation. The Times, October 21, 2009.

[11] Thomas C (February 2010) Are juries fair? Ministry of Justice Research Series 1/10

[12] Feist, A., Ashe, J., Lawrence, J., McPhee, D. and Wilson, R. (2007) Investigating and detecting recorded offences of rape. London: Home Office Online Report 18/07.

[13] Daly, K. and Bouhours, B. (2009) Rape and Attrition in the Legal Process: A Comparative Analysis of Five Countries. Brisbane: Griffith University

[14] BBC Radio 4 (August 24, 2009) ‘More or Less’ and ‘Straight Statistics’  (Whiston.R)

[15] Ministry of Justice (2010) Criminal Statistics: England and Wales 2008 –Statistics bulletin

[16] Assistant Commissioner John Yates in interview with Clare Dyer.  Rape cases: police admit failing victims. The Guardian (March 4, 2010)

[17] Adshead G. Psychological Trauma and its Influence on Genuine and False Complaints of Sexual Assault. Med Sci Law 1996; 36: 95-99

[18] Kelly, L., Lovett, J. and Regan, L. (2005) A gap or a chasm? Attrition in reported rape cases. Home Office Research Study 293. London: Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University.

[19] Harris J, Grace S (1999) A question of evidence? Investigating and prosecuting rape in the 1990s. Home Office Research Study 196. London: Home Office

[20] Kanin EJ. False Rape Allegations Arch Sex Behavior 1994; 23: 81-92

[21] Parker AD, Brown J. Detection of deception: Statement Validity Analysis as a means of determining truthfulness or falsity of rape allegations Legal and Crminological Psychology 2000; 5: 237-259

[22] Heaton-Armstrong A. Rape – Myth and Reality – and the need for balance.  Address at the Friend’s Dinner of the British Academy of Forensic Sciences, March 11, 2010

[23] Rumney PNS. False Allegations of Rape Cambridge Law Journal 2006; 65(1): 12-58

[24] R v Carrington-Jones (2007) EWCA Crim. 2551

[25] Government Equalities Office (2010) The Stern Review London: Home Office

[26] HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (2007) Without consent: A report on the joint review of the investigation and prosecution of rape offences. London: HMCPSI.  

[27] Ingemann-Hansen O, Brink O, Sabroe S, Sorensen V, Charles AV. Legal aspects of sexual violence – Does forensic evidence make a difference? For Sci Int 2008; 180: 98-104

[28] HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate/HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (2002) The Report on the Joint Inspection into the Investigation and Prosecution of Cases involving Allegations of Rape: A CPSI and HMIC joint thematic inspection.

[29] Jordan J. Beyond belief? Police, rape and women’s credibility. Criminal Justice 2002; 4(1): 29-59

[30] Manser T I. Cases of serious sexual offences – a survey. The Police Surgeon January 1991 (38): 4-27

[31] See, for example: Home Office (2001) Report of the Home Office Working Group on Police Surgeons. Home Office: London

[32] Chowdhury-Hawkins R, McLean I, Winterholler, Welch J. Preferred choice of gender of staff providing care to victims of sexual assault in Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCS). J Forensic Leg Med 2008; 15: 363-7

[33] Temkin J. Medical Evidence in Rape Cases: A Continuing Problem for Criminal Justice. Modern Law Review 1998; 61: 821-48

[34] Kelly K, Moon G, Bradshaw Y, Savage SP. Insult to injury? The medical investigation of rape in England and Wales J Soc Wel Fam L 1998; 20: 409-20

[35] Templeton DJ, Williams A, Healey L, Odell M, Wells D. Male forensic physicians have an important role in sexual assault care. A response to “Chowdhury-Hawkins et al. Preferred choice of gender of staff providing care to victims of sexual assault in Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs)”

[36] Fiddes P, Scott A, Fletcher J, Glasier A.  Attitudes towards pelvic examination and chaperones: a questionnaire survey of patients and providers. Contraception 2003; 67: 313-17

[37] Webb R, Opdahl M. Breast and pelvic examinations: Easing women’s discomfort. Can Fam Physician 1996; 42: 54-58

[38] Schmittdiel J, Selby JV, Grumbach K, Quesenberry CP. Women’s provider preferences for basic gynaecology care in a large health maintenance organization. J Womens Health Gend Based Med 1999; 8: 825-33

[39] Lee TT, Westrup DA, Ruzek JI, Keller J, Weitlauf JC. Impact of Clinician Gender on Examination Anxiety among Female Veterans with Sexual Trauma: A Pilot Study. J Women’s Health 2007; 16: 1291-99

[40] Lovett J, Regan L, Kelly l (2004) Sexual Assault Referral Centres: developing good practice and maximising potentials. Home Office Research Study 285. Home Office: London

[41] Davies M. Male sexual assault victims: a selective review of the literature an dimplications for support services. Aggression and Violent Behavior 2002: 7: 203-14

[42] King M, Wollett E. Sexually assaulted males: 115 men consulting a counselling service Arch Sex Behav 1997; 26: 579-88

[43] Heaton CJ, Marquez JT. Patient preferences for physician gender in the male genital/rectal exam Fam Pract Res J 1990; 10: 105-15

[44] Government Equalities Office (2010) Connections and disconnections: Assessing evidence, knowledge and practice in responses to rape. London: Government Equalities Office

[45] Pillai M, Paul S. Facilities for complainants of sexual assault throughout the United Kingdom. J Clin Forensic Med 2006; 13: 164-171

[46] Home Office (2008). Saving lives. Reducing harm. Protecting the public. An action plan for tackling violence 2008-2011, London: Home Office.

[47] Home Office (2009) Saving Lives. Reducing harm. Protecting the public. An action plan for tackling violence 2008-2011. One year on. London: Home Office

[48] Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine (2008) Recommendations for Regional Sexual Assault Referral Centres. Report of a Department of Health Working Group FFLM: London