§ Lord Campbell-Savours
asked Her Majesty's Government:
If they have reviewed the work of Eugene J Kanin of Purdue University on the incidence of false declaration of rape in a metropolitan community of 70,000 inhabitants in the United States. [HL1486]
§ Lord Filkin
The Sexual Offences Bill follows a major review of the criminal law on sexual offences, which looked at a wide range of the very numerous authorities on sex offences and sex offenders. as listed in Annex K of volume 2 of SettingThe Boundaries. The review process involved consideration of a significant number of reports and research studies and included a comparison with the laws of a number of other countries, including Australia and New Zealand. Eugene Kanin's work was not considered as part of the review process, but we are satisfied that the review was comprehensive and thorough. We do not believe that there is anything in our proposals, which are based on the review, that would encourage an increase in the number of false allegations that are made.
The police are duty bound to make detailed investigations where allegations are made of serious offences. Following the initial investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considers the content of the police findings and makes its own independent assessment. Both the police and the CPS have to consider the nature of the evidence before them and whether it is reliable enough to support a realistic prospect of conviction. It is the overriding duty of the CPS to ensure that the right person is charged with the right offence.
There are important safeguards in the criminal justice system to ensure that those who are falsely accused or wrongly convicted can have this injustice righted. These include the presumption of innocence, the high standard of proof on the prosecution, the right to legal representation, the right to call any witnesses to challenge and test evidence through cross-examination and the right to seek leave to appeal against conviction or sentence. There are also a range of offences to deal with those who might seek to pursue such allegations, including the offences of perverting the course of justice, wasting police time and perjury. The latter carries a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment.