Judge Lady Hale speaks of difficulties Yorkshire police forces face in charging suspected rapists

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The President of the Supreme Court has spoken of the difficulties in charging suspected rapists.

Richmond-residing Lady Brenda Hale, one of the country's most senior judges, spoke about the low figures of rape allegations resulting in charges and convictions across Yorkshire.

President of the Supreme Court Lady Brenda Hale, pictured in Bradford

President of the Supreme Court Lady Brenda Hale, pictured in Bradford

It follows a campaign spearheaded by Yorkshire Post's sister title, the Yorkshire Evening Post, highlighting that just 4.4 per cent of people who report being raped in West Yorkshire see their case taken to court.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Lady Hale said that rape allegations were taken "much more seriously" these days, although added that suspects had to be guilty "beyond reasonable doubt" for them to be convicted.

She said: "It is a long-standing problem of how you accurately handle rape and sexual assault and sexual exploitation cases.

"For a long time, complainants were not taken seriously, and that was bad. Now, complainants are taken much more seriously than they used to be, but that brings with it the difficulties of presenting the case and proving the case.

Only a small percentage of people who report being raped in Yorkshire see their attackers charged, and even less convicted. Image: Shutterstock

Only a small percentage of people who report being raped in Yorkshire see their attackers charged, and even less convicted. Image: Shutterstock

"If we're talking about prosecutions, the defendant's guilt has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And the circumstances of so many of these cases make it quite hard to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt."

READ MORE: YEP campaign over West Yorkshire rape prosecution rates is raised in Parliament

In a series of interviews this month, the YEP highlighted that many victims are subjected to having their phones taken by police and are unable to discuss their assault with counsellors while cases are active.

Further probed on this, Lady Hale said: "The reason for giving up the phone is because there have been some high profile cases in which defence counsel were the first people to investigate what was on the phone and discovered things which produced a good defence, which meant that the prosecution either had to be abandoned or failed.

"So it's not surprising that the police are saying: 'Can we have a look at your phone?'

"But equally, it must always be for the woman concerned to decide whether or not she wants to do that, running the risk that if she doesn't, people may make allegations against her which otherwise they wouldn't."

Lady Hale added: "Being fair to both sides is what any justice system is supposed to be about and it's really hard."