HC Deb 16 December 1982 vol 34 c466
4. Miss Joan Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he now expects to announce the results of his review into guidelines to the police about the conduct of inquiries into alleged rape offences.

Mr. Mayhew

Early in the new year.

Miss Lestor

Is the Minister aware that we have waited a long time for that report and that several things have happened since the review began? When the report is issued, will he clarify the advice given by certain spokespersons for police authorities—that women in danger of being raped should submit to rape rather than risk further violence? Is he aware that the law seems to be perpetuating the contradiction that if a woman complains of rape but does not appear to have marks of violence on her, it will be assumed that she has submitted to sex as dinstinct from rape?

Mr. Mayhew

I certainly do not accept the hon. Lady's proposition. It cannot form any part of the law or an assumption in law or common sense. Chief officers will shortly receive guidelines which will deal with all the controversial and topical matters involved in police investigations of rape offences. Those guidelines will be comprehensive and sensible.

Mr. Farr

Will the inquiry cover penalties for rape offences, such as those referred to recently by my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor?

Mr. Mayhew

The content of criminal law is for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. Matters relating to judicial discretion are for my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor. I see no prospect—the Government have no plans to do so—of legislating to introduce mandatory sentences. In 1980, the last year for which figures are available, 97 per cent. of all those convicted of rape received immediate custodial sentences.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Do not those figures put the issue into context? Is it not about time that a great deal of the emotion was cut out of the subject? Whatever the Home Secretary decides to do about the issue, will he please not allow a right of appeal against a sentence on behalf of the prosecution, as that would be a disaster?

Mr. Mayhew

The hon. Gentleman's supplementary goes wide of the original question. Discussion of the offence is bound to have emotional overtones. However, what needs to be brought to bear on all these difficult issues is a calm and sensible judgment.