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This report summarises the findings from a study of attrition in reported rape cases. It is based on case file analysis of 676 offences of female rape recorded by the police in 2003/04 in eight forces in England and Wales. The study examines the characteristics of rape victims; how offences are reported and responded to by the police; the loss of cases as they progress through the criminal justice system; the extent and nature of victim withdrawal; factors that predict whether cases get to court or result in a conviction; and, changes in recorded detections over time. The study highlights the importance of victim withdrawal in the loss of cases from the criminal justice system. A range of offence, offender, investigation and victim characteristics were found to significantly predict case outcomes. Much of the decline in recorded detection rates for rape since 1997 appears to be due to the impact of changes in the way that offences and detections are recorded.
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The Home Office
Duncan McPhee, and Rachel Wilson