Mark Wallace makes a very important point over on his blog about the prison term served by people found guilty of rape.
The conviction rate for rape is also very low and it is understandable that Ken Clarke is looking at ways to improve the situation. Having spoken to police officers who investigate rape, it is clear that the nature of the crime makes building a successful case difficult. By the nature of the crime it is often the word of one person against the word of another with no independent witnesses nor scientific evidence to prove or disprove consent.
The irony of the Ken Clarke furore is that it is based on the comments he made about “serious, proper”, while his phraseology was crass in the extreme, I am more concerned about the substance of the proposals.
There is already a 1/3 discount on the duration of a sentence if the accused pleads guity, even in rape cases. What the statistics show is that almost no one accused of rape takes up this option, why would you when the vast, vast bulk of people accused of rape either see the case dropped (often through lack of evidence) or are found not guilty? I cannot see that this would change at all if the discount on sentance was increased from 1/3 to 1/2.
Reducing the need for women to relive a traumatic ordeal in court is an admirable aim, but these proposals would be ineffective both in that aim and also in increasing conviction rates.