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The rise in reporting of sexual crime

Summary:
We are currently witnessing another media frenzy.  The media have moved from reporting the Maoist Black Liberation Movement (briefly called Black Lives Matter) to wall to wall coverage of sexual offences against women.What are the real figures for sexual offences against women?  The latest statistical report is to be found in: Sexual offences in England and Wales: year ending March 2017.The trend for sexual assault is downwards:This data comes from the Crime Survey for England and Wales which involves reports from a large, random sample from the population.  The punch line of the survey is that "An estimated 3.1% of women (510,000) and 0.8% of men (138,000) aged 16 to 59 experienced sexual assault in the last year, according to the year ending March 2017 CSEW; no significant change from

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 We are currently witnessing another media frenzy.  The media have moved from reporting the Maoist Black Liberation Movement (briefly called Black Lives Matter) to wall to wall coverage of sexual offences against women.

What are the real figures for sexual offences against women?  The latest statistical report is to be found in: Sexual offences in England and Wales: year ending March 2017.

The trend for sexual assault is downwards:

The rise in reporting of sexual crime
This data comes from the Crime Survey for England and Wales which involves reports from a large, random sample from the population.  The punch line of the survey is that "An estimated 3.1% of women (510,000) and 0.8% of men (138,000) aged 16 to 59 experienced sexual assault in the last year, according to the year ending March 2017 CSEW; no significant change from the previous year’s survey."

Over the past twenty years there have been several initiatives to increase reporting of sexual crimes.  As can be seen from the survey there are a considerable number of sexual crimes and many of these were not being reported.   These initiatives have led to a very big increase in reporting:

The rise in reporting of sexual crime
It should be noted however that people have been encouraged by Operation Yewtree and other high profile investigations to report historical abuse.  About 33% of the reported offences were historical: "non-recent offences remain an important contributor to the latest rise in sexual offences (33%)" and very difficult to prosecute.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales contains this warning in bold letters for those analysing and reporting on sexual offences:

"Sexual offences and domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police do not provide a reliable measure of trends in these types of crime. Improvements in police recording practices and increased reporting by victims have contributed to increases in recent years, although this effect is thought to be diminishing. The figures do, however, provide a good measure of the crime-related demand on the police."

In the noughties rape was made an explicit crime within marriage.  This created a crime that can be reported but only prosecuted with extreme difficulty.  The law on rape within marriage was largely introduced in the hope of there being a deterrent effect because it was always appreciated that bringing a successful prosecution would be difficult.  The introduction of Tinder and other apps that encourage people to meet in private for sex also creates a problem for prosecutions.

Those prosecuting any offence know that if the case reduces to one person's word against another there is little chance of conviction. This probably partly explains why, during COVID, the conviction rate for rape has fallen as people are isolated indoors, away from witnesses:

The rise in reporting of sexual crime

Only about 14 women were murdered on the streets last year and the rate is not rising but the mass media are reporting the streets to be unsafe for women.

There are interesting parallels here between the recent BLM feeding frenzy in the media and the current frenzy over sexual assault.  In both racist and sexual incidents the actual level of crime has been falling but the level of reporting to the police has risen.  In both cases the reporting level has risen because the government and media have encouraged victims to report incidents to the police (See Hate Crime Figures).  In both cases journalists have seized on the increased reporting to create polarisation and damage to our society.

In particular the BBC is charged with introducing a higher level of analysis into its reporting but has failed miserably yet again.  They should have made it clear that there is little risk of murder or rape on the streets of Britain.  Something must be done about the BBC and Channel 4.

The real problem facing us is how to prevent journalists from seeking polarisation in every article and dramatists from endlessly portraying women as prey.  It is the mass media who are responsible for much of women's fear, even when they cover sexual assault they lie and twist the truth to exaggerate perceived risk in the hope of creating damage or excitement.  Any new BBC Charter should explicitly limit campaigning activity, the National Broadcaster cannot both campaign and be objective and impartial.

16/3/2021


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