||Justice and the C-word|
Time to speak out loud the C-Word ?
in the last week several high-profile cases involving false accusations of rape have made the headlines. It's strange that reported rapes here are farr higher than in other European countries of comparable size - say, France, Germany and Italy.
At the same time, our conviction rates as a percentage of allegations reported to the police, are far lower than in other countries; and at just 6%, far lower than for other crimes. Are men here really so much more predatory than in our neighbour countries? Or might there be another reason for this - which could mean that the high allegation rate, and the low conviction rate, are actually connected.
You would expect a lower conviction rate than for most other crimes as very often, the alleged victim and the alleged offender are known to each other, and it's just a "Her word against his word" stand-off. We need to be clear also that just because a jury acquits a man accused of rape, may not mean that a rape was not committed - juries must agree the defendant was guilty 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.
There's a wide spectrum of situations. At on end of the scale, cases where it's easy to prove the defendant was guilty; these tend to be stranger-rape, where a woman is grabbed in the street at night and forced into an alleyway; there's lots of relevant forensic evidence. At the other end of the scale, the cases where a police investigation soon establishes forensically that the accused is innocent (for instance, they can prove they were in a different country on the date in question). The issue is the big range of situations in between, the "shades of grey" where the man and woman give different versions of events, and you need to look at vast amounts of digital evidence eg texts, whatsapps, etc. But every now and then we get a case (like the Liam Allan case, see below ) - where the police if they look deeply enough, realise that the female accuser is telling a pack of lies, to try and get an innocent man convicted.
The big question is , how common are cases like this - and can we do anything to prevent them happening.
What motive could a woman have, to try and frame an innocent man - possibly causing him to spend many years in prison? In the past the motive was nearly always: Revenge. The woman has been 'wronged' by the man, usually because she was jilted or dumped for another woman; she has a quite justifiable grievance. We all know the old saying "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". But nowadays - and only in this country - there's a new and more sinister motive.
There's 195 countries on our planet. But only ONE out of all these countries, has CICA - the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme. And that's US - the UK. This pays very generous compensation to victims of crime. Of course it's easy for them to be generous - they don't use their own money, or the criminal's money - CICA uses OUR money; our taxes which you and I pay and are supposed to go on schools, hospitals, the NHS and so on. WE have to pay out, to compensate for crimes we didn't commit. But CICA even pays out when there's no conviction - the offence may never have been proved in any court (as in the Jimmy Savile cases - he died before any cases were tried in court). And there's another aspect to CICA. When the offence is of a sexual nature, those receiving compensation do so, in the knowledge that nobody else will ever find out - their anonymity is protected for life.
Could the unspoken "C-Word" - COMPENSATION - be what's driving an increase in false accusations? And if it is - what can we do about it?
Offender (we're not allowed to know her name) Victim: Liam Allan
This anonymous offender made 12 malicious false accusations, against the victim, a student called Liam Allan.
If he'd had been wrongly convicted, he could have gone to prison for up to 20 years and his whole life ruined; fortunately, thank God, the false nature of the accusations was discovered just in time, and the trial stopped. Why did she do this ? We'll never know - her identity is hidden for life; unless the police decide to prosecute here for Wasting Police time - and they seem content to let her get away with it. So we can't ask her what the motive was . Was it revenge ? Or was it to do with that nasty C-Word - COMPENSATION ?
If this person's scheme had succeeded, and the victim had been unjustly convicted on all 12 counts - how much compensation would she have got?
The lowest amount would have been £132,000. The highest possible amount , £528,000. So - somewhere in between.
All tax-free. And with no-one else in the world, ever knowing about this money. Just her - the offender's - little secret..
How can we prevent or reduce such false allegations? There's a good case for a new offence "False Accusing".
If the police investigation shows forensically and definitely, that the "accuser" has invented her story - then the roles of victim and accuser would swap over IMMEDIATELY. The 'offender' now becomes the victim - the police immediately apologise, charges are dropped.
The 'victim' now becomes the offender - she gets charged immediately with False Accusing; and is publicly named. And in the event she was convicted, the sentence would be a MANDATORY prison term equalling the number of years her victim would have got if he'd been convicted.