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Drop the proposed extension of anonymity to rape defendants

Petition published by Amelia Longcroft on May 25, 2010
1899 Signatures 
Target: Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke QC MP

Petition Background (Preamble):

UPDATE 09/10/2010
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In a letter Tom McNally at the Ministry of Justice has confirmed:

"Having considered the arguments the Government has concluded that it does not see a compelling case for anonymity for those accused of rape beyond the point of charge ... The Government will not announce its detailed plans until the autumn but whatever we do it will be without recourse to legislation."

Well done everyone and thank you for signing the petition.

UPDATE 06/07/2010
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50 organisations have signed Rights of Women's statement opposing this proposal. Rights of Women is contacting every MP before the debate on the proposal in the House of Commons which is scheduled for Thursday 8 July.

UPDATE 09/06/2010
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Rather than clog up this page with endless updates, please see cim's parliamentary timeline at Refusing the Default for the latest developments.

UPDATE 01/06/2010
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Former Solicitor General Vera Baird summarizes the arguments against this proposal in an article published today in Progress Magazine, available to read here.

UPDATE 27/05/2010: EDM tabled
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An Early Day Motion was tabled yesterday as follows:

"That this House believes that the Government's proposal to grant anonymity to defendants in rape cases sends a message to juries and rape victims that the victim is not to be believed; fears that this could inhibit the effective prosecution of serial rapists; is further concerned that this will reverse the progress made on the prosecution of rape cases noted in the independent Stern Review; is further concerned that the Government has put forward the proposal without any research, evidence or examination of these issues; and calls on the Government to withdraw its proposal."


PREAMBLE
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On 20th May 2010, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition announced their intention to extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants.

Currently only rape complainants are granted anonymity. In a system of open justice anonymity should only be granted when there are compelling reasons to do so.

The primary purpose of complainant anonymity is to encourage victims to come forward and report rape, a severely under-reported crime (Home Office research estimates that 85% of rapes go unreported).

No such argument applies to rape defendants, who are treated in the same way as those accused of other crimes.

For a summary of arguments with reference to anonymity, see here

Petition:

We, the undersigned, object to the government's proposal to extend anonymity to rape defendants for the following reasons:

a) extending anonymity only to rape defendants sends out a clear signal that false allegations of rape are more prevalent than false allegations of other crimes: there is no reliable evidence that this is the case;

b) rape complainants are granted anonymity only because there are compelling reasons to do so, i.e. in order to encourage more victims to report the crime: there are no such compelling reasons to extend anonymity to defendants;

c) rapists are frequently repeat offenders: extending anonymity to defendants would prevent other victims from coming forward in response to publicity surrounding such cases;

d) rape is a severely under-reported crime, and, of those rapes that are reported, the conviction rate is 6%. Clearly measures are urgently needed to improve victim support, to improve evidence-gathering, to increase the number of specially trained professionals within the criminal justice system, and to educate the public in order to counteract increasingly prevalent 'rape myths' (not least the idea that false allegations of rape are a common occurrence). When such measures are urgently required, it is indefensible to make a priority of protecting defendants.

We call upon the government to drop this proposal for the reasons given.

The Drop the proposed extension of anonymity to rape defendants petition to Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke QC MP was written by Amelia Longcroft and is in the category Justice at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: , , , ,

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