A third of rape victims feel police are ‘unhelpful’ during investigations

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A third of rape victims are frustrated by “unhelpful” officers during police investigations, official data have revealed, as new laws could require forces to set up specialist units.

Analysis of crime survey data from the Office for National Statistics over three years showed 31 per cent of rape victims were unhappy with the police’s handling of their investigation, saying officers were not helpful.

It comes as Labour on Friday tabled amendments to the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill calling for police forces to have specialist units dealing with rape and serious sexual assault.

Two fifths (17 out of 43) of the police forces in England and Wales do not have a specialist Rape and Serious Sexual Offences unit (RASSO). The amendment would require all those bar the smallest to set up RASSOs to provide victims with specialist detectives and support.

It comes as Home Office figures show the number of victims dropping out of prosecutions has jumped to a record 41.3 per cent, blaming intrusive questioning, delays in investigations and worries over facing their attacker in court.

HM inspectors have raised concerns over a tripling in the number of rape cases being closed because victims no longer support police action, from 5,773 in 2014/15 to the highest on record of 18,584 in 2018/19 for female victims of rape.

Just 1.4 per cent of reported rapes are prosecuted and the number has plummeted over the last five years. The proportion of sexual assaults resulting in a charge dropped from 16.4 per cent in 2016 to 12 per cent now.

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