That Dame Vera Baird doesn’t understand rape nor rape statistics isn’t all that surprising. All too few do. That Dame Vera Baird is now in charge of whining about rape and rape statistics does make this a problem. This is an issue that we’ve addressed more than once around here.
Dame Vera is complaining that:
Rape prosecutions have “dropped off a cliff” because the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is acting like a “bookies” that only backs cases it will win, says the new victims’ commissioner. Dame Vera Baird, a former police and crime commissioner and solicitor general, accused the CPS of pandering to the myths and stereotypes of rape victims that juries had about women, such as wearing short skirts.
In her first interview since taking the job, she told BBC Radio 4: “The rate of the CPS’s prosecutions have dropped off a cliff and it seems as if they must be taking account of the myths and stereotypes that juries have which is not at all what they are supposed to do, to take a sort of bookies’ approach.”
That’s what the CPS is for. To look at cases and decide whether it’s in the public interest to prosecute them. To weight the evidence and to then think, hmm, can we win this one in court? As we’ve said:
That’s the usual journalist drivel with numbers. There is no way that prosecutions were ever 20% of rape reports. They mean 5% presumably. And then there’s the legal idiocy there. Police don’t record rapes. They record allegations of rape. The rest of the system exists to try to sort through those allegations. Was a crime committed? Not always, no. While it’s possible to argue over how often false allegations do occur. It’s even possible that people claim that was a rape wasn’t, rather than being malicious. Then there’s, well, do we have someone we can prosecute? Not always possible with, say, stranger rape. Then there’s the, well, enough proof to be likely to gain a conviction? That’s what the rest of the system, after the police recording of the allegation, is there to try to work out.
Not all reports of rape are cases that can be prosecuted. Not all cases even should be prosecuted.
We also know – know, not suspect – that juries won’t convict when they think the sentence too harsh for the alleged offence. Back when theft to the value of 5 shillings was a hanging offence, juries determined the value of what had been stolen, there were an awful lot of people convicted of stealing to the value of 4 shillings and eleven pennies. What should be defined as a rape that one should be jailed for is thus a question of what the general population thinks it should be. This then flows through into what it is that the Crown Prosecution Service thinks should be taken to court as a rape to be prosecuted.
The jury is there to ensure that what gains a rape conviction is what the general society agrees is indeed rape. That’s actually the point. And the CPS is supposed to act as bookies when viewing what crosses their desks, that’s their point.
As to this:
The 20 per cent fall in the conviction rate had come despite a 173 per cent rise in reports of rape between 2014 and 2018. “What on earth is happening?” asked Dame Vera. “The worry is that the CPS are not doing what they should be doing which is to look at the merits of each individual case and say, in so far as this involves myths, we will see them as something we need to overcome, not as a barrier.
What the CPS is doing is looking at each case and deciding that while the number of rape reports is rising the number of cases where a conviction for rape can be achieved isn’t changing, or even is falling. Which is what the CPS is supposed to do.
Not that this happens, not at all, no, never. Imagine that a certain set of society decides that not gaining a second date after a shag means that the shag was in fact rape. That would be a societal – if limited to a certain section of society – change. The law hasn’t changed in the slightest. And nor has the general societal view of what constitutes rape. Thus those insisting that the absence of the second date is rape come up against a legal system and a general societal view that what they’re calling rape isn’t rape.
As I insist, this never, nope never, does happen. But that would explain the numbers that Dame Vera is complaining about if it did, wouldn’t it?
To be rather more gentle, and truthful, about it a certain section of society is these days insisting that this, this, this and this, is rape and people must be convicted of rape if they do this, or this, this, this. The rest of society is either not woke enough or more discerning – your choice – and insists that this is rape, this and this might be sexual assault, GBH, all sorts of things, and this over here is bad manners and why Granny warned you against boys.
The thing is, when it comes to locking people up, who should we be listening to? The vociferous or the people?