Greater Manchester Police more likely to bring charges in rape cases where victim is white, data shows

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The data - which also once again reveals how low charging rates are for rape - has concerned charities supporting survivors of sexual violence.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic victims of sexual and domestic violence in Greater Manchester are less likely to see their abusers charged than white victims, data shows.

Data uncovered by our sister title NationalWorld as part of a major investigation into how sexual crimes are handled by police, revealed charges are less likely to be brought for black or Asian victims across the UK.

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The figures also show how low charging rates for rape have fallen, with significantly fewer than one in 10 crimes recorded resulting in charges being brought.

Charities have completely condemned the figures and called for an extensive overhaul of how rape is handled by police forces, with one organisation saying too many victims from minority backgrounds in particular are being let down.

Policing bodies have acknowledged the figures show there is a lot more to do to ensure victims of sexual crimes get justice.

What does the data show?

The data, which was compiled through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests sent to police forces by NationalWorld, showed that between 2016 and 2020 there were 15,629 crime outcomes recorded for rape by Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

Of those, 1,043 ended with charges being brought.

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That means that just 6.7% of the crime outcomes recorded for rape ended with someone being charged.

The charging rate for white victims is exactly the same as the overall rate of 6.7%, with 451 of the 6,723 crime outcomes recorded ending with charges.

For black or Asian victims, though, the figures are even lower.

Just 21 of the 466 crime outcomes recorded for black victims ended with charges being brought, giving a rate of 4.5%.

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And for Asian victims the rate was 3.5%, with 20 charges out of 566 crime outcomes recorded.

These figures do not add up to the total number of crime outcomes recorded as in many cases no data is put down regarding the victim’s ethnicity.

Is it the same for other similar crimes?

NationalWorld has also looked at charging rates for sexual assault and again discrepancies among victims of different ethnicities can be seen in the Greater Manchester statistics.

For sexual assault the charging rate for GMP between 2016 and 2020 was 9.3%, with a rate of 9.1% if the victim was white.

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For black victims, though, the rate was 7.9%, and for Asian victims it was 6.8%.

Our sister title also found similar gaps in charging rates for domestic abuse, but GMP did not provide any data for this.

What has the reaction been from charities?

Charities have condemned the UK-wide figures, saying the discrepancies between victims of different ethnicities are appalling and the overall rates of charges being brought are far too low.

The charging rate for rape cases involving white victims is higher, but still less than one in 10 of the crime outcomes recordedThe charging rate for rape cases involving white victims is higher, but still less than one in 10 of the crime outcomes recorded
The charging rate for rape cases involving white victims is higher, but still less than one in 10 of the crime outcomes recorded | Shutterstock

Rebecca Hitchen, head of policy and campaigns at the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW): “This data shows that even when charges are brought against so few perpetrators of rape that it has been effectively decriminalised, there are still huge disparities in terms of which women are most likely to see justice, with the highest police charging rates seen when victims are white.

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“While this is wholly unacceptable we are not surprised, given that racism is woven into the fabric of society - including our justice agencies.

“The impact of sexism, racism and other structural inequalities leave Black and minoritised women facing discriminatory treatment and barriers at every stage of the criminal justice process.

“We know that women are systematically not believed or taken seriously when they report abuse to the police. This is compounded by stereotyping and discrimination due to women’s race, class, disability and other characteristics. Can we really be surprised that many don’t report violence against them in the first place?

“In a year when we’ve seen a national outpouring of anger and distress about violence against women and a growing movement demanding change, we’ve had big commitments from government to tackle it.

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“What we need now is strong leadership, accountability for poor charging decisions and a radical review of a system that treats survivors as suspects instead of perpetrators.”

Jayne Butler, CEO of Rape Crisis England and Wales, said: “Unfortunately it is not surprising that the charging rate differs so much based on ethnicity, with black and minoritised women seeing a charge rate below the already unacceptable average for white women. There is clearly institutionalised racism at play here.

“Police training must include more in-depth equalities work, addressing unconscious bias, myths and stereotypes related to sex, race/ethnicity, social class, disability and other protected characteristics, concerning victims/survivors and offenders.

“We also recommend that police take measures to record data around protected characteristics effectively so that we can get a true reflection of survivor experience.”

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Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, called on the Government to create a dedicated funding pot of £262.9m for ‘by and for’ services which would include support for Black and minoritised victims.

The Runnymede Trust called the figures “shocking” and said ethnic minority women are being “let down” by police forces.

What have policing bodies said?

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Rape, Temporary Chief Constable Sarah Crew, said: “These figures are a stark reminder that charge rates are too low in rape and sexual offences for everyone, but we recognise they are even lower for black and minority victims.

“We must, and are, doing everything in our power to improve them.

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“The developments that need to take place are broader than policing and we will continue to play our part in the whole criminal justice wide overhaul, working with our partners in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and beyond.

“It is incredibly important for us to understand the experiences of minority groups for both victims and suspects. We need to know where the barriers are and we need to work with focus and determination to dismantle them, whether that is reporting, at charge or at trial.

“We recognise that capturing ethnicity and other personal characteristics is vital in this effort and forces up and down the country will be responding to inspectorate findings around this.

“Understanding barriers, and building investigative strategies which accommodate them, is part of the work underway to improve policing capability in the investigation of rape and serious sexual offences.”

GMP declined to comment on the data.