Conviction rates for sex offences in the courts covering Wigan are lower than for any other category of offence, according to new figures released today.
Analysis of Greater Manchester crime data produced by the Crown Prosecution Service over the first quarter (Jan, February and March) of the year reveals that cases involving theft and handling resulted in the highest conviction rate (94.3%).
Other offences in Greater Manchester with conviction rates over 90% include criminal damage (92.9%), robbery (92.3%) and drugs offences (91.7%).
At the other end of the scale, just 79.5% of sex offence cases and 80% of murders tried in Greater Manchester’s courts this year have resulted in a conviction.
Solicitor Chris Saltrese, Managing Partner of Chris Saltrese Solicitors, specialises in defending contested sexual offence allegations. Commenting on the conviction rates, he said:
“The conviction rate in sex offence cases is abnormally low because the CPS are bringing charges on weak evidence, particularly in historic cases.
“There is no requirement for corroboration or independent witnesses – the complainant’s account is enough for a prosecution and conviction.”
Added Chris: “Weak cases are being nodded forward for prosecution but juries are often more savvy than police and lawyers. When they are presented with evidence which has not been subjected to the slightest scrutiny, they acquit.”
In a House of Commons debate this week, MP Ann Coffey called for juries to be scrapped in rape trials because of “shockingly low” charging and conviction rates.
Commenting on the proposals, Chris Saltrese said: “Rape and other sexual offences should certainly not be treated differently from other serious criminal offences and so they should still be heard by juries who, as with non-sexual offences, should reach verdicts based on the consistency and cogency of the evidence.”