Improving the quality of rape investigations

Executive summary

  • A full evidence-based review should be conducted into how statements and testimony are gathered and handled in rape and serious sexual offences inthe UK justice system.
  • Government should lead a public campaign to dispel the common myths and stereotypes often repeated in sexual assault and domestic violence criminal investigations and trials.
  • An evidence-based suite of training for medical, police, and legal practitioners who interact with survivors of abuse and violence would be helpful.
  • Government should establish an interdisciplinary taskforce on rape and sexual assault.


As little as 1% of rape allegations in the UK now lead to a conviction. We know:

  • Perpetrators of rape tend to be serial offenders, and often commit further sexual offences, domestic violence, and other serious crimes. Low conviction rates only encourage perpetration and decrease public safety.
  • Higher conviction rates would act both as a deterrent and as encouragement to other survivors in coming forwards.
  • Successful prosecution provides crucial resolution to the survivor of sexual assault.

Research from Professor Heather Flowe, alongside collaborators, provides an evidence base that can improve the quality of rape and serious sexual offense investigations and prosecutions, using a victim-centered approach that supports survivors. It aims to counter the worrying trends in conviction rates.


Professor Heather Flowe

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