Of Sterner stuff ?

As another CPS Review deadline into how rape cases are handled looms closer (May 6th 2011) a glance back at the past 3 years shows how much attention this topic has receive from government. 

by Robert Whiston. Ref Stern Review (Sept 2009), which reported in March 2010.

Strong on rhetoric but always weak on substance should read the End of Year’ report card, 2009, for the Home Office.

The Gov’t announced (in Dec 2009) that yet another review of rape convictions was to be commissioned and which will again look into why rape convictions are so low. This is but one more in a long series of ‘spin’ and promises.

All this presupposes the Home Office is using the right model, i.e. a model that can be shown to work. 

The problem is that the paradigm beloved of the Home Office will never work. In April 1999 its policy shaping executive had already decided that “no man charged [with a sex crime] will escape the net”, and committed themselves to that ambition in a Sept conference paper.

Ten years on – and somewhat the worse for the battering – British justice is still not cowed enough even for the radical feminists within the Home Office. So now it is time to roll out Baroness Stern.

Left: Baroness Stern – she concedes that ‘being drunk is an aggravating factor in rape’

The Home Office is obsessed with tightening the screw – letting no man escape punishment – but it has yet to realise the model it is using is flawed. It is modeling its strategy on policies that are known to fail, and worse, are known to be irrelevant to modern needs. Contrary to what the Home Office must have been expecting the Stern Review righted a few wrongs and told the Home Office and minsters what they were getting wrong about rape, namely the silly 6% conviction figure.

Why, one has to ask, does the Home Office adopt this total vengeance approach for rapists but not murderers or terrorists ?

To quote their publicity: “The review, to be headed by prisons reformer Baroness Stern, is expected to examine why the conviction rate is so low. But she will not look at the law itself” (a reference to the 6% fugure).  http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23783433-drunken-men-who-insist-on-sex-are-rapists.do

Not looking at the law itself had the effect on the Review of tying one arm  behind it’s back. Despite this the Home Office could not have expected that the other arm would lay waste the sacred cow of 6% rape conviction figure.

The law was changed in 2003 (when the conviction rate was probably 8%) i an attempt to increase the conviction rate. The Home Office was warned in 2000 that its planned changes would make little difference and if anything would fail when they had to face their first challenge over ‘consent’ –  which, of course, it did.

When some of us were asked to review the law back in 1999, the HO insisted on the same caveat, namely that we could only come up with solutions so long as we didn’t look too closely at the law [ in our case making space for consideration of false allegations ].

Subsequent to the lack of a breakthrough in the numbers of conviction for rape in the post-2003 years, the Dec 2009 rhetoric looks like it could very well be just a massaging of bruised egos. Stern could have  dutifully followed on from the 1999 and 2003 mindset but Stern did not dissappoint in her break with consensus conclusions.

Disappointingly the planned Stern exercise looked at ‘processes and not substance just as it had in 1999. Once again it looked at the obvious alleged victim – not the 2nd victim, i.e. the alleged defendant or his compromised rights. Rights that by now are enforceable in name only together with the legal right of a presumption of innocence that is ignored.

Stern could have come up with recommendations comparable to those of the Gov’t funded Women’s National Council (WNC) which in the 1980s was in the vanguard of this whole topic. However, while the HO clung on to the 1980s and seemed determined to remain deaf to demands for outright change and calls for law amendments, the Stern review, in the end, raised them as possibilities.

The bête noir of the Home Office is that the police are “no-criming” rapes far too easily and far too quickly. But what do the figures say ? Table 3.3 (below) is taken from HORS 196 (p 15), of a Home Office survey into rape allegations.

One-quarter of all rape cases are ‘no-crimed’ and have been for decades, e.g. Lloyd & Walmsley study in 1989, Grace & Harris etc. in a more recent study HORS 293 attempts by ardent feminists, such as Liz Kelly, still reveal high levels of no-criming” and NFA.

Table 3.3 shows why this occurs; 64% are false / malicious complaints against strangers and 42% of complaints against acquaintances are withdrawn (which is defined in a way that might surprise you).

TABLE 3.3 Reasons given for ‘no-criming’ according to relationship between complainant and suspect (%).
  Stranger Acquaint’ce Intimate All
Complaint withdrawn

14

42

33

36

False/ malicious complaint

64

37

52

43

Insufficient evidence

21

15

12

15

Unwilling to testify

3

1

Other

5

5

Note: a = 106 initially recorded rape cases for which the relationship and reasons for no-criming were known
Source: Home Office  HORS 196

False / malicious complaints made against cohabitee, and boyfriend/ girlfriend relationships make up 52% of instances.

A Home Office circular to police chiefs means that the withdrawals (termed ‘retractions’) have to be voluntarily made by the accuser / complainant.

Viewed over time, this is not so much a case of men changing their patterns of behaviour (ie men raping more oftern and in greater numbers), as women changing their behaviour. The mushrooming of false allegations does little for the credibility of those women who really have been raped. See also https://falseallegations.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/4/.

Baroness Stern’s spokesperson is quoted as saying: “Lady Stern insisted that a drunken woman was not “fair game” and called for a firmer line to be taken with men who failed to restrain themselves when they are drunk.”

Is it men that need to restrain their libidos these days ?  In the eyes of many it is today’s women who seem to be the gender that needs to be restrained – or has Baroness Stern not been out on the streets late at night recently ?

The inverted logic and old fashioned double standards in Baroness Stern’s statement are visible for all to see.

The corollary to these modern trends in sexual behaviour is that drunkenness in a man greatly detracts from his ability to acheive vaginal penetration while in the female drunkenness can lead to a lowering of inhibitions. These salient facts seem to have eluded the Baroness’s grasp of biology and bio-mechanics.

To suggest that drunken girls/women can’t know whether they have given consent or not,  improperly holds men to a higher standard when drunk. Most of these girls are not modern-day chaste, teenage debutantes. It may shock the older generation but loosing one’s virginity is something to be acheived at the earliest opportunity among modern girls. Previous births, children fathered by a variety of men and abortions are no longer the barrier to a girl’s marriage prosects they once were.

The modern woman is, for the most part, blind drunk on a Friday night and if the Baroness thinks they represent an attractive target for equally drunken young men then she has not woken up and smelt the coffee.

Conveniently forgotton in all the commotion about rape is the sensationalist terror weapons of the late 1990s  – the alleged “date rape drugs” known as Rohypnol and GHB. These so-called date rape drugs burst upon the British public’s consciousness in 2000 with the media revealing one sensational drug- induced rape after another. The curious side-effect of these drugs were reportedly that the victim had no memory of being raped.

Rohypnol, or to give its clinical name “Flunitrazepam”,  is available only by prescription (in the UK, USA and Europe), so access to it is very limited. At a time when date rape using these drugs hit their peak in the US, a paper by Robertson (San Diego Medical Examiner’s office) indicated that flunitrazepam was only used in around 1% of reported date rapes. The El Sohly Laboratories results for the same year  showed test results of 0.33% based on urine lab tests (see “Analysis of urine samples in cases of alleged sexual assault case history”. Benzodiazepines and GHB: 127–144).

It became a worldwide phenomenon after (like so many urban myths), first finding publicity in America. So in 2006 doctors at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine examined the files of 434 adult victims of sexual assault reported to Victoria Police between April 2002 and April 2003. They identified 76 as cases of suspected drink-spiking or “drug-facilitated sexual assault”. But researchers found “unexpected” drugs in only 15 victims or 20% of cases. Moreover 13 of the 15 had also knowingly taken a range of other “psychoactive” drugs, including anti-depressants and party drugs [ ecstasy ?] . No evidence whatsoever was found of GHB or Rohypnol, the two well-known “date rape” drugs ( 95% of victims in the survey were female, and the average age was 25). [ June 4, 2006
http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/drinkspike-victims-had-one-too-many/2006/06/03/1148956587909.html%3E ]. British police have since concluded that the scare was hyped and possibly without foundation.

  • ‘A toxicology expert from the Forensic Science Service, which analyses evidence for the police, told the Mail he had come across only one sample of blood or urine containing Rohypnol – the most commonly talked about ‘date-rape’ drug – in the past decade. ‘The reality is drink spiking is very, very rare’, said senior forensic scientist Michael Scott-Ham. ‘Alcohol itself is the problem.’ – Daily Mail, Nov 6th 2009.

The study, conducted by the Forensic Science Service in 2005, examined 1,014 cases of  ‘drug facilitated sexual assault’ by analysing blood and urine samples from victims gathered by police forces in England & Wales. In only 21 – about 2 per cent – were traces of drugs found thatthe women had not taken voluntarily.

‘Spiking’ women’s drinks has caused women anxiety for a almost decade but alcohol expert Robin Touquet, Professor of Emergency Medicine at Imperial College, London, points out:

  • ‘Women are demonising so-called drink spiking rather than facing up to the fact that drinking too much alcohol can put them in a highly dangerous situation. ‘Most of the time, drink spiking does not happen. It always comes down to booze.’

Were the Baroness to think things through properly she would realise it is equally difficult for a drunken young man to recall accurately whether he was or was not given consent by the girl (ref. bio-mechanics) ?

Most rapes or attempted rapes do not occur in spousal relationships but in cohabitee and boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, and generally only in relationships that have been terminated by one or both parties. Closer examination of ‘spousal rape’ reveals that it is rarely spousal but more former spousal. This may include, given the emotions involved in divorce and custody issues, a tinge of revenge or negotiating position.

Reformers who advocate greater acceptance of cohabitees as an alternative lifestyle will, therefore, have put up with increased levels of rape allegations and more domestic violence claims – another social pathology that is strongly linked to cohabitation.

Thankfully, Baroness Stern does show some signs of catching up with events. She is quoted as saying that the:

  • “. . . .figures quoted by ministers stating that only five per cent of reported attacks ending in conviction were misleading” and that instead of forever focusing on the misleading attrition rate “ . . . a more accurate picture was given by the 61% national conviction rate for cases which came to court.”

This is a national conviction rate some of us have been pushing for as the truth for many years.

Footnotes:

Home Office Research Study (HORS)

  • HORS 293  “A Gap or a Chasm? Attrition in Reported Rape Cases” by Liz Kelly (2006).
  • HORS 285  “Sexual Assault Referral Centres: developing good practice and maximising potentials” by Jo Lovett, Linda Regan & Liz Kelly  (2004)
  • HORS 237  “Rape and sexual assault of women: the extent and nature of the problem. Findings from the British Crime Survey
  • HORS 215 “Linking serious sexual assaults through behaviour” by Don Grubin (2001)
  • HORS 196  “A question of evidence? Investigating and prosecuting rape in the 1990s” by Harris  & Grace (1999) Home Office
  • Research and Statistics Directorate Research Findings No. 55, “The Prevalence of Convictions for Sexual Offending” by Peter Marshall, Home Office

 

END

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