MORE than half of all rape cases are dropped by the person making the allegation in Sussex, figures show.

Home Office data shows that of the 735 rape investigations closed by Sussex Police between April and September last year, 87 per cent were dropped due to problems gathering evidence.

In most of those cases, police said the alleged victim no longer supported the investigation. A suspect had already been identified in 67 per cent of cases.

The figures also show that just five per cent of rape cases closed by Sussex Police in that period resulted in a charge or summons.

Men, who are typically less likely to report rape, made far fewer allegations than women – 63 compared to 672 – and were less likely to drop their case.

Experts say sexual abuse victims risk being retraumatised by their experiences of the criminal justice system and many give up on seeking justice because they feel as though they are not believed or that they are the ones under investigation.

It comes as leading women's groups criticised the government over its Rape Review, published last week.

Home Office figures show 52,210 rapes were recorded in England and Wales in 2020, but only 843 resulted in a charge by the end of the year – fewer than 1 in 60 cases.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has apologised to rape victims for low conviction rates.

Ministers have set out plans for a “system and culture change” following a major review of the justice system’s approach to such offences.

But specialist women’s groups feel the Review’s recommendations do not go far enough to tackle the "urgent justice crisis" with the speed and to the extent needed, or to address inequalities in the system.

Amelia Handy, policy lead for Rape Crisis England and Wales said: “This is a missed opportunity to create the fundamental changes required to make the system fit for purpose.

"While there are individual elements of the Government’s report that are encouraging, it’s hard to identify any big commitments that will radically and swiftly improve the experience of the justice system for victims and survivors.

"We must not forget that, according to latest figures, only 1 in 6 women, and 1 in 5 men, who have been subjected to sexual violence or abuse of any kind ever have the confidence to report to the police.

"Of those that do report, only a tiny proportion ever see a suspect even charged, let alone convicted, at the end of what is a long and too often a retraumatising process.

"This means that the overwhelming majority of victims and survivors of these serious crimes never receive criminal justice, while the overwhelming majority of perpetrators walk free.

"Through our decades of experience providing specialist support and advocacy services, we know sexual violence and abuse are traumatic experiences, with severe, wide-ranging and long-lasting – often lifelong – impacts on victims’ and survivors’ health, relationships and whole lives.

"The catastrophic failure of our criminal justice system to uphold these people’s needs and rights is no less than a national emergency."

The Argus: Boris Johnson has apologised for rape case delaysBoris Johnson has apologised for rape case delays

The Prime Minister told the Commons on Tuesday that efforts are continuing to toughen sentences and to boost the number of people in the Crown Prosecution Service to deal with such crimes.

He said: “There are considerable evidential problems, particularly in recovering data from mobile phones, and that has been an obstacle to the speedy preparation of cases.

“Too often, let’s be frank, cases go from the police to the Crown Prosecution Service not in a fit state and too often those cases are not in a fit state to come to court, and there is not a good enough join-up across the criminal justice system.

“And that is exactly what we’re addressing by our investments and by our end-to-end rape review.

"Of course, to all the victims of rape and sexual violence, all the victims and survivors, of course I say sorry for the trauma they have been through, the frustration that they go through because of the inadequacies of the criminal justice system.

“We are fixing that by investing another £1 billion in clearing the court backlogs, in ensuring that they have people they can listen to and trust who will help them through the trials of the criminal justice experience, but above all we’re helping them by getting our courts moving again.”