Statistics and Conviction Rates

**Trigger Warning: rape and sexual assault**

Rape accounts for less than 1% of all recorded crime. Sexual abuse and rape are often unreported to the police. Sexual abuse and rape disproportionately affect women and girls.


Conviction rates for rape are notoriously low. Only 15% of rape allegations are reported to the police and of the total reported, fewer than 6% result in an offender being convicted. However, once the case goes to court, then 59% of those result in a conviction. This is partly because 40% of adults who are raped tell no one about it and because of lack of evidence to take rape allegation cases to court in order to prosecute the perpetrator.


Almost 23% of women and 3% of men will experience sexual assault as an adult. More than 5% of women and 0.4% of men experience rape. Most perpetrators (around 80%) of rape are known to the survivor, and many are partners or family members.


All information from:



The maximum sentence for rape is life imprisonment.


The average sentence for rape is approximately four years, although in many cases, the sentence is much less and, as indicated above, many cases do not get taken to court and if they do only 59% result in conviction.


For a recent public report on sentencing for sexual offences, click here:


Rape Defences

If a case reaches court, there are three common defences to rape:

  1. Nothing happened
  2. It wasn’t me
  3. The person consented


DNA and forensic evidence are helping to reduce the frequency of the first two defences, as long as evidence can be gained soon after the rape occurs. The third defence is the most commonly used on in courts. As outlined in the Definitions section, the legal ruling on consent is a grey area and the perpetrator has to have reasonable doubt that the person was consenting to the sex.


Unfortunately, as rape cases are often decided on by a jury, unhelpful attitudes tend to be put forward suggesting that levels of intoxication and clothing choices amount to giving consent. This is not the case and we would like to restate that rape is never the fault of the survivor.

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