This is the joint website of  Women Against Rape and Black Women's Rape Action Project. Both organisations are based on self-help and provide support, legal information and advocacy. We campaign for justice and protection for all women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual, domestic and/or racist violence.

WAR was founded in 1976. It has won changes in the law, such as making rape in marriage a crime, set legal precedents and achieved compensation for many women. BWRAP was founded in 1991. It focuses on getting justice for women of colour, bringing out the particular discrimination they face. It has prevented the deportation of many rape survivors. Both organisations are multiracial.




Rape reform is shelved

In the Media

The Times

Fiona Hamilton London Correspondent

September 14 2010 10:37PM

A major investigation into police failures in the handling of rape cases has been shelved to save money, The Times has learnt. The decision, taken after Theresa May, the Home Secretary, began looking for budget cuts, will prevent a nationwide inquiry into police standards, which was prompted after a series of high-profile blunders by detectives. Dave Gee, a senior adviser to the Government on rape, told The Times that abandoning the scheme was short-sighted and warned that momentum was being lost on improving investigation methods. Campaigners accused ministers of missing an opportunity to improve Britain’s poor rape conviction rates, which are the worst in Europe. Mr Gee warned that while some police forces were doing good work in focusing on rape, many cases were still not being investigated properly. He said that some chief constables were unwilling to take cases forward because of concerns that their statistics would suffer if a defendant were acquitted, and that prosecutors were often “ignorant of the mindset of victims”.

He added: “Despite the advice to investigators and prosecutors to try to build cases, and thus the credibility of the victim, there is little evidence of this being applied routinely. It results in a majority of discontinued cases.”

He warned that some forces were already reviewing rape investigations in the expectation of funding shortfalls. “There are signs that the future may not be encouraging,” Mr Gee said.

Two rape cases last year highlighted dismissive attitudes among police officers about rape cases.

John Worboys, a London taxi driver, was left free to attack hundreds of women because officers did not believe victims’ reports of being assaulted. One woman was told that black cab drivers “don’t do that sort of thing”.

Only weeks after Worboys was jailed, Kirk Reid was convicted of twenty-six attacks, including two rapes. He had come to the police’s attention 12 times before he was arrested and charged and is thought to have attacked more than 70 women.

Last year a study of rape conviction rates by London Metropolitan University showed that Britain came bottom of 33 European countries, with just 6.5 per cent. The researchers found that the conviction rate in France, by contrast, was 25 per cent.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, the police watchdog, announced last year that it would carry out a full audit of how victims were treated. The £441,000 study was to scrutinise rape investigations from beginning to end, including how police built their cases and dealt with those accused.

The watchdog confirmed yesterday that the programme had been put on hold after funding was withdrawn from the Home Office.

The news comes as Mrs May prepares to address the Police Superintendents’ Association’s annual conference this morning about the impact of sweeping cuts.

Campaign groups called on the Government to reassert pressure on the police and CPS.

Ceri Goddard, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women’s rights, said: “Services that protect women from sexual violence and abuse are seen as a soft target for cuts. Watering down this much needed review of rape services adds insult to injury.”

Mr Gee, a former detective chief superintendent who headed the national rape support programme until his recent retirement, told The Times that an important opportunity had been lost, with some police forces now believing that the pressure was off.

He said: “A lot of the forces rely on the impetus that inspections give as they focus minds. Once the inspections are removed then the message is that it’s not that important. It goes off the boil.”

Mr Gee said that a “watered-down” version of the original audit was being proposed. “It is not the full inspection that the forces were expecting. The funding was declined by the Home Office. The focus on victims was the new, significant part.”

A spokeswoman for HMIC claimed, however, that the limited audit — looking at offenders, not victims — could also be vulnerable to budget cuts.

The coalition Government was forced to abandon plans to grant anonymity to pre-charge rape defendants after an outcry from other parties and female Conservative MPs early in the summer.

Crispin Blunt, the Justice Minister, announced at the end of July that the Government would instead seek to negotiate with the Press Complaints Commission to persuade the media to grant anonymity to suspects.

Read WAR comment and victim's testimony on the ordeal of reporting to police