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Number of rapes rises but only one in 20 cases leads to police charge

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Only one in 20 rape allegations in London leads to a suspect being charged, the Standard can reveal today.

Reports of sexual offences other than rape fare little better, with only 6,883 of the 56,933 allegations between May 2016 and February 2021 being solved, according to the Met’s own figures.

Research by the Standard today highlights the full extent of sexual crime in London, with more than 18,000 incidents reported in the 12 months to February.

This included 7,172 rapes, up from 6,547 in the 12-month period to March 2017, that overlaps with Sadiq Khan’s first year as Mayor, and 10,861 other sexual offences, down from 11,257 over the same period.

The total number of sex crimes in London fell between 2019 and 2020, and further as a result of lockdowns, but reports of domestic violence have soared during the pandemic.

Even prior to the Sarah Everard case, Mr Khan was under pressure from Tories at City Hall to explain how the £44million he invested in 2018 to make the capital safer for women had reduced the number of rapes and sexual assaults.

Since Mr Khan was elected in May 2016, 36,905 rapes have been reported in London by the Met.

Of these, only 2,026 led to a sanction detection where a suspect was charged — 5.5 per cent of the total.

In addition, only 6,883 of the 56,933 sexual offences between May 2016 and February 2021 were solved, according to the Met’s crime dashboard — 12.1 per cent.

Almost nine in 10 victims of sexual crimes are female.

Excluding the effect of the pandemic, the number of rape allegations rose by 15.3 per cent between 2016 and 2020 in London — but was down seven per cent between 2019 and 2020. Sexual offences other than rape were up 2.6 per cent between 2016 and 2020 but down six per cent between 2019 and 2020.

City Hall’s own crime data shows a fall in the perception among Londoners of how well the Met responds to violence against women and girls.

In Wandsworth and Lambeth, the boroughs through which Sarah Everard walked on her last journey as she headed home, confidence in the police has fallen from 77 per cent to 59 per cent and 71 per cent to 58 per cent respectively.

Sarah Everard death / PA Wire

Covid has hugely increased the backlog in cases coming to court, exacerbating problems that had seen the time to charge a defendant almost doubling in south London and increasing by almost 50 per cent in north London by 2018.

Domestic homicides in London increased to 22 last year, compared with 16 in 2019.

The killings were among 126 murder investigations launched in 2020.

Lisa King, for domestic abuse charity Refuge, said lockdown had “forced women and children into isolation with their abusers”. Asked about rape prosecutions earlier this year, Mr Khan said City Hall and the Met “strive for improvements” and said he monitored prosecution rates “closely”.

Today the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, said women regarded the streets as “lawless” when it came to male behaviour.

She told BBC Breakfast earlier that women had begun to speak about their “appalling experiences” following the murder of Ms Everard.

She said: “They regard quite clearly the streets as lawless for women when it comes to male behaviour.

“Men it seems, they tell us, can do what they want and say what they want, and nobody will take action.”

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