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Study of Reported Rapes in Victoria 2000-2003, Summary Research Report

NCJ Number
Dr. Melanie Heenan; Dr. Suellen Murray
Date Published
July 2006
57 pages
Using the database of the Victoria Police Law Enforcement Assistance Program (Australia), this study analyzed 850 rapes reported to Victoria Police from 2000 to 2003, with attention to the features of the investigations and the factors that influenced the outcomes of the investigations.
Despite reforms intended to increase the number of rape investigations that proceed to prosecution, the study found that suspects were charged in only 15 percent of the 850 reported rapes. Rape complaints were subsequently withdrawn in 15.1 percent of the cases, and 46.4 percent of the complaints resulted in "no further police action." For the cases in which complaints were withdrawn, no statistically reliable profile of case characteristics could be determined; however, when complaints were withdrawn, suspects were more likely to be current or former partners of the complainant. Cases that resulted in "no further police action" were more likely to involve younger victims, victims who were acquainted with or had a cursory relationship with the suspect, and victims who had consumed alcohol or other drugs near the time of the offense. Of the 850 cases, 21.3 percent were "still ongoing" or their status could not be determined from the case records. Only a small percentage of cases (2.1 percent) were designated by police as false. Twenty-six percent of the cases involved victims with a psychiatric disability or mental health issue. Charges were more likely to be brought when the rape victim was male (even though the overwhelming majority of complainants were female); had been physically injured; had been medically examined; was not under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of the offense; was subjected to other offenses in the course of the rape; and when the suspect was known to police for previous sexual offenses. 44 references