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Editorial: A welcome tilt of the balance on rape

Evidence on the comparatively low number for false allegations of rape in the past 17 months is to be warmly welcomed

There is no doubt that rape is difficult to prove. It is, after all, a crime that often simply pits one person’s word against another’s. Even so, there is ample evidence of too much caution from police and prosecutors, in part out of concern that an innocent suspect might be wrongly – even maliciously – accused. Meanwhile, sexual crimes are woefully under-reported, to no small extent because victims fear that they will not be believed.

Against such a background, evidence from the Crown Prosecution Service of the vast gulf between the number of successful prosecutions for rape – 5,651 – and the number for false allegations of rape – just 35 – in the past 17 months is to be warmly welcomed. An assumption of innocence until proven guilty is, of course, central to our criminal justice system. So should be an assumption that a victim of crime is telling the truth.