Open Letter to Keir Starmer RE: Consultation on alleged false allegations of rape

We strongly believe that the prosecution of women for alleged false allegations of rape is not in the public interest. This is because:

It distracts from the true rape scandal that over 90% of rapists get away with it since 90% of rapes are never reported, up to 45% of reports are no-crimed, and the conviction rate for reported rape is 6.5%.

It gives the misleading impression that false allegations are a major problem when they are in fact extremely rare.

It deters rape survivors from coming forward. Survivors do a public service by reporting dangerous men so they can be stopped from raping again. This should be encouraged. But many women are now afraid to report in case they are disbelieved and sent to jail.

Every time a victim is disbelieved and prosecuted, a message is sent to rapists that they will get away with rape, while their victim will be punished twice: by them and by the criminal justice system.

Victims are often under pressure to retract. In some cases by the police, in others by fear of retaliation or fear of losing their children (social services have been known to take the children of victims of domestic violence.)

Prosecutions for alleged false allegations often follow biased and negligent rape investigations. Perpetrators are believed in preference to victims, evidence is lost or not gathered, witnesses not interviewed, statements not taken. Therefore, we cannot trust police or CPS to reliably assess whether a woman is lying or not.

Women who have been raped more than once are particularly vulnerable to being disbelieved, especially if they previously reported an attack which didn’t lead to a conviction. Yet 37% of rape victims have been raped more than once. “A history of making demonstrably false complaints” may be a history of being disbelieved by biased authorities. Children are even more likely to be disbelieved.

The police and CPS are particularly prejudiced against women and girls who are: mentally ill, drug users, immigrants, asylum seekers, working class, sex workers or have a criminal record. Once women are disbelieved, it is only a small step further to prosecuting them for an alleged ‘false allegation’.

If a raped woman is sent to prison she suffers additional trauma at a time when she most needs support.

Children whose mothers are imprisoned suffer untold lasting harm.

Women who have been convicted for making a false allegation are a target for more violence, as they will not be believed if they are attacked again.

An investigation can establish when an allegation looks unfounded before any harm is done to anyone. In most cases the man has not suffered more than questioning.

When both accuser and accused are young, a prosecution is the least appropriate action and can cause long lasting damage to both parties.

A number of innocent women have been wrongly convicted of making a false allegation. Some were forced to retract, others never retracted. Such victims of miscarriages of justice should be released and have their convictions quashed.

Signed by:
Women Against Rape, Lisa Longstaff
and the following organisations and individuals:

All African Women’s Group, Stella Mpaka
Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Cristel Amiss
Campaign for Radical Sociology, Colin Francome
Central Scotland Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre, Cathy Steele
Domestic Abuse Safety Unit (Deeside), Gina Edwards, Victoria Roberts,
Sandra Edwards, Sue Monti, Emma Williams
East Kent Rape Line, Sue Hemsley
Enfield Women’s Centre, Ginnie Langdon
English Collective of Prostitutes, Cari Mitchell
Global Women’s Strike, Selma James
Hafan Cymru, Cathy Davies
Henna Foundation, Shahien Taj MBE
Her Centre, Stacy Smith
Legal Action for Women, Nina Lopez
Leicester Rape Crisis, Cindy Allen
Lesbian Bi Trans Queer in the Global Women’s Strike, Didi Rossi
London Irish Women’s Centre, Claire Barry
National Association for People Abused in Childhood, Peter Saunders
National Board of Catholic Women, Celia Capstick (Social Responsibility
Payday Men’s Network, Giorgio Riva
Port Talbot and Afan Women’s Aid, Naomi Brightmore
Respond, Annie Rose (ISVA)
Single Mother’s Self-Defence, Kim Sparrow
South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre, Sheila Coates
Wales Violence Against Women Action Group, Naomi Brightmore
Welsh Women’s Aid /Cymorth i Ferched Cymru, Hannah Austin
WinVisible – women with visible and invisible disabilities, Claire Glasman
Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike, Sara Callaway
Women’s Support Project, Jan Mcleod
Women Worldwide for Freedom & Equality, The Hon. Dr Jocelynne A. Scutt, former judge

Alex Brew
Angie Zelter (Wales)
Carly Radford
Carol Foster, RMT & Brent Trades Council (ID only)
Chloe Radford
Emily Burnham, lawyer
Gail Sherwood, victim
Lani Parker
Laura McCluskey, Clean Break Theatre Education Manager (ID only)
Lisa Broomhall
Luke Whittaker
Maggie Ronayne, Lecturer National University of Ireland
Roy St Pierre
Stella Whitehouse
Susan Francis