In the six months after Sarah Everard died, 18,000 victims saw their rape reports come to nothing
Almost 340 rapes or sexual assaults of women and girls were recorded every day on average in England and Wales in the six months following Sarah Everard’s murder.
The March 2021 abduction, rape and murder of Ms Everard, 33, by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens galvanised public anger in the UK concerning violence against women and girls – and the criminal justice system’s failure to tackle it.
New analysis of Home Office data by NationalWorld reveals the scale of that violence.
Between April and September 2021, 34,608 rape offences and 36,265 sexual assaults were recorded by police forces across the two nations, of which 31,194 (90%) and 30,631 (84%) respectively involved female victims, both adults and children.
That equates to 338 reports from female victims every day on average (170 rapes and 167 sexual assaults), and 49 from males. Legally, rape can only be committed by males.
The figures are a count of rapes, rather than unique victims.
Scottish police recorded 3,778 rapes and sexual assaults in the same six-month period (21 per day) and Northern Ireland 1,457 (eight per day), according to figures from Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Neither country’s figures are broken down by sex of the victim.
Leading feminist lawyer and founder of the Centre for Women’s Justice, Harriet Wistrich, said it is important to remember that many victims do not report their assaults.
Rape Crisis chief executive officer Jayne Butler said “the vast majority of rapes and sexual assaults never get reported”.
The latest annual crime survey of England and Wales from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows 0.8% of women aged 16 to 74 said they had experienced rape or assault by penetration, or attempts to do so, in the last year, as of the year ending March 2020.
That would mean around 180,000 women had experienced such an assault in just one year, based on mid-2020 population estimates – the equivalent of 493 per day.
The same survey showed 0.1% of men had experienced a rape over the same year. This would equate to 15,000 men.
Ms Butler said there “have been few real steps taken to tackle the misogyny that is widespread throughout British society and our state institutions”, despite public outrage in the wake of the deaths of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa (killed in London in September 2021) and Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman (sisters stabbed to death in London in June 2020, with police officers later sharing selfies with their bodies).
“Violence against women and girsl feels pervasive, inescapabale and unavoidable,” she continued.
“The opportunity for radical change is here. In the past year, report after report has been published detailing institutional failings and giving recommendations for what needs to change.
“Apologies and outrage have flowed, but progress has felt unbearably slow. It doesn’t feel like everyday life and experience of women has changed at all.”
A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesperson said police forces are committed to transforming the system and “turning the tables so violent men feel under threat from police action, not women and girls going about their lives”
"We recognise there is still much to do, and work is well underway to improve the policing response,” they added.
“A new police framework launched in December 2021 set out action required from every police force to make women and girls safer.
“In this framework, there are three pillars looking at trust and confidence, relentless pursuit of perpetrators and creating safer spaces for women and girls.”
Challenging sexism among the police and placing greater emphasis on perpetrators rather than victims are two key focus areas, the spokesperson said.
The Home Office was also approached for comment.
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