Cambridgeshire Police close 9 in every 10 rape cases due to difficulties with evidence
Nine in every 10 rape cases in Cambridgeshire are closed by police because of evidential difficulties, figures show.
The Home Office data – which also shows that just one in 38 cases ends with anyone being charged – reflects the difficulty police face in bringing suspects to court.
This week, it was revealed that rape victims are being told they must hand over their mobile phones to police or risk prosecutions against their attackers not going ahead.
In 2018, 681 rape investigations were concluded by Cambridgeshire Constabulary. Just 18, or per cent, of them resulted in a suspect being charged.
The most common reason for rape investigations being closed was evidential difficulties, preventing the case proceeding, even though a suspect had been identified and the victim supported police action. This accounted for 35 per cent of cases.
In a further 33 per cent, a suspect had been identified, but the victim did not support police action, or withdrew support from it.
In 23 per cent, the crime was confirmed by police, but no suspect was identified and the victim declined or was unable to support further police action.
Another three per cent of cases were closed with police concluding the crime had been investigated as far as reasonably possible, pending further avenues of interest opening up.
Recently, consent forms asking rape victims for permission to access their messages, photographs, emails and social media accounts have been rolled out across the 43 forces in England and Wales.
Max Hill, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said digital devices will only be looked at when it forms a "reasonable line of enquiry" and only "relevant" material will go before a court if it meets "hard and fast" rules.
"If there's material on a device, let's say a mobile phone, which forms a reasonable line of enquiry, but doesn't undermine the prosecution case and doesn't support any known defence case, then it won't be disclosed," he said.
But the policy faced an immediate backlash, with the End Violence Against Women Coalition saying the forms reinforced "prejudices and barriers" against rape victims.
Rachel Krys, co-director of the coalition, said: "We have an extremely serious problem with prosecuting rape in this country and it is a fact that most rapists get away with it.
"Part of the reason for this is that investigations too often focus on women's character, honesty and sexual history, despite rules which are supposed to prevent this, instead of the actions and behaviour of the person accused.
"There is no reason for rape investigations to require such an invasion of women's privacy as a matter of routine."