‘The Report’ is a BBC Radio 4 current affairs series combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations. One relatively recent episode looked at the case of Paul Fensome, who spent a short period of time in jail after a false rape claim. A lot of blame is apportioned on the investigating police force, who ignored photographic evidence that proved he was innocent in their determination to believe the victim.
The episode asks a lot of difficult questions. Whilst it’s vital to treat rape reports seriously and treat those reporting the crime with respect – which has certainly not always been the case in the past – it asks whether the pendulum swung too far in the other direction? The episode discusses whether police now start out from a position of believing every report, and whether that is right.
The episode also asks whether it’s right for women’s groups to advise women not to report rapes for fear that they too will not be taken seriously and end up going to jail for false accusations of rape, and point to the very low record of rape convictions. But the CPS argue that the conviction for rape is around the same rate as other crimes, such as fraud; and it doesn’t recognise where some other outcome has taken place, such as a conviction for sexual abuse or some other charge, or the victim has agreed to settle the case.
To stream or download this though-provoking episode, click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04v5gh7
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Trainee barrister jailed for false rape claims
A trainee barrister has been jailed after being found guilty of falsely accusing her former boyfriend of a series of rapes and assaults.Sentencing Rhiannon Brooker, 30, to three and half years, the judge Julian Lambert said she had acted in an “utterly wicked” way and argued that false claims made it more difficult for real rape victims to be believed in court. There was anger from women’s rights campaigners who claimed that such severe sentences would put off rape victims from going to the police for fear they could face prosecution if allegations were not proven. There were cries of “Shame” and “Miscarriage of justice” as Brooker’s sentence was handed down.