BACK to campaigns

How many false allegations of rape are there?  How do the forces of the law prosecute them in the UK?  And if you care about the complainants, then who many genuine cases of rape are there?  Are those victims of rape treated any better by police than people who are the subject of lies about rape?

The fact you’ve landed on this site suggests that you have more than a passing interest in these questions.  You will likely want to understand whether you are alone, or whether false allegations are a more common problem.

This site supports victims of false allegations of rape as well as victims of other false allegations of a sexual nature.  But the statistics for rape are much far more clearly defined – and numerous – than for other allegations.  So in what follows, we’ve narrowed down our analysis from these various categories to just cases involving rape. The conclusions about rape may be generalizable to similar false allegations, and they may not be – please use cautiously.

The law on rape and perversion of the course of justice

First, let us just clarify what the law means by rape.  It is committed when:

the perpetrator intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with his penis, the victim does not consent to the penetration, and he [the perpetrator] does not reasonably believe that the victim consents. A person consents if they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice
(Sexual Offences Act 2003).

Next, have a look at the attached CPS guidance for dealing with people suspected of attempting to pervert the course of justice by making a false allegation of rape.  There are clearly very different standards operating when the CPS’s attempts to catch rapists, as opposed to when they consider prosecuting people who have attempted to pervert the course of justice.  Does this mean that the victims of these crimes receive a different service?

In this section on research, presents original analysis that attempts to explore these questions. First, before we discuss victims of false allegations, let’s look at genuine victims of rape.

Genuine victims of rape

In order to understand the figures on FRA it’s helpful to put them into the context of genuine victims of rape.  It is the awful service provided to these victims of crime that is behind the large numbers of men now being falsely accused.

Best research estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales suggest that there are about 97,000 rapes  each year.  Until about 2011, only 1 in 5 of these people (18,800 in England & Wales) would go on to make a complaint to the police.  In the light of all the publicity over the Savile scandal, this figure has risen to about 30,000 crimes reported in E&W in 2014/5.

Nonetheless, it is still probably true that only about 1 in 95 people who are raped see their attacker sentenced for rape.  Of those who’ve gone through a police interview about their complaint (the 18,800 in 2011), only about 1 in 10 of these saw their attacker jailed for some sort of sexual offence in 2011.

If you have been falsely accused, you should know that the rape problem in the UK is an order of magnitude greater than the problem that has led to your plight.  This difference is why you have been caught in the cross-fire.  If more people come forward with true allegations, it is easier for more of the false ones to slip through and ruin your life.  For some anti-rape campaigners, you are simply an unfortunate casualty in a just war.

A health warning before you read other articles in this section

Academics have looked at the issues we are discussing about false allegations of rape.  Unfortunately, they don’t all agree.

Unless you have a good understanding of how to interpret academic literature, then BEFORE YOU READ FURTHER, and especially if you want to quote this for journalistic purposes, then please consider the following:

  • As of October 2015, the analysis here hasn’t been ‘peer reviewed‘ – in other words, it’s not been checked by some people who understand a lot about criminology.  It could therefore be wrong, or at least not supported by people who understand these things.
  • Make sure you understand what is meant by meta-analysis, and are familiar with the Cochrane Collaboration – something that deals with the application of these sorts of methods.
  • Be sure that you haven’t misunderstood what the flow chart is trying to explain.  There are a lot of numbers there and they can be quite confusing.  The take home message is that people who are subject to a false allegation about rape are 10-20x less likely to see their accuser convicted than people who are make a complaint about rape are to see their rapist convicted.
  • If you wish to use this analysis for your own private research, please do.  If you want to quote it please note that all works on this site remain copyright of (c) 2015.  Please contact us and we’ll most likely give you permission.