Lancashire convictions up – but are ‘tip of the iceberg’

The internet is fuelling domestic abuse type crime such as stalking
The internet is fuelling domestic abuse type crime such as stalking

Women who suffer rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence in Lancashire are increasingly likely to see their perpetrator convicted, a new report has shown.

But concerns have been raised nationally that the internet is fuelling domestic abuse type crime such as stalking – and that conviction rates are merely the tip of the iceberg.

The prosecution of crimes involving violence against women and girls is one of our key priorities, and I hope today’s report will give victims confidence in coming forward and reporting these crimes to police

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The CPS’s Violence against Women and Girls report shows 3,032 defendants in Lancashire were prosecuted for such crimes in 2015/16 – a higher than average conviction rate of 76.7 per cent.

They included 108 rapists – increasing the county’s rape conviction rate by a tenth to 67.1 per cent, and 243 sex attackers. A further 2,681 were convicted of domestic abuse against women and girls, making a conviction rate of nearly three quarters.

Today, Claire Lindley, chief crown prosecutor for CPS North West said the introduction of a specialist unit for prosecuting rape and serious sexual offences, with specially-trained prosecutors and paralegal staff, had contributed to a significant improvement.

She said: “The prosecution of crimes involving violence against women and girls is one of our key priorities, and I hope today’s report will give victims confidence in coming forward and reporting these crimes to police. The message is also clear to those who commit these offences; where we have evidence we will bring prosecutions.

A police spokesman added: “We are committed to securing justice for all victims of crimes of this type and we will continue to work closely with partners to achieve that.

“We hope these figures will give victims the confidence in coming forward and reporting these crimes safe in the knowledge we will deal with them professionally and sensitively.”

Specialist solicitor Rachel Horman, who chairs the national stalking advocacy service, said: “While encouraging, the figures are the tip of the iceberg and the way police nationally deal with domestic abuse is appalling.

“I’ve had clients report harassment or stalking, only to be told to come back once they are attacked..”