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Release of pilot study on sexual assault

Media Release

13 September 2007

A new report, released today by Police and Emergency Services Minister Simon Corbell, has given new insights into sexual assault in the ACT.

Mr Corbell said the report, Pilot study on sexual assault and related offences in the ACT: Stage 3, would be used by the Government when making policy decisions to help victims of sexual assaults.

He said victim reform and service delivery was a high Government priority.

"The Government has provided more than $500,000 in its recent Budget to enhance and integrate the services available to victims of crime in the ACT," he said.

"A reference group has also been established to prepare responses to the recommendations of the Responding to Sexual Assault: the Challenge of Change report.

"I am pleased to release the report which was undertaken by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) on behalf of the ACT Government.

"This report presents an overview of the issues surrounding the tracking of sexual assault cases through the ACT criminal justice system for the year 2004-05."

Most of the data set examined in the study reflects research elsewhere on what is known about the nature and characteristics of sexual assault offences. Some of the findings in the snapshot show that sexual assault offences in the ACT:

  • were often against victims who were younger than their attackers, although the relationship between victim and offender age was not linear;
  • were mostly perpetrated by offenders known to victims but involved family violence in only a minority of incidents;
  • mostly took place in residential settings;
  • were reported to police without delay in around half of all incidents; and
  • resulted in the conviction of around one-third of cases; and,
  • the acquittal of around one in ten apprehended offenders.

"The study also examines attrition rates of sexual assault cases at various points in the ACT criminal justice system and highlights the difficulties in measuring these rates of attrition," Mr Corbell said.

"While the study does not draw attention to specific factors that are relevant in determining whether the complaint of sexual assault will result in legal proceedings, it does indicate that the major points of attrition for sexual offences in the criminal justice system lie between reporting to police and "clear up" of the investigation, and between "clear up" and the commencement of legal proceedings.

"As evidenced in the report there is a range of procedural, evidential and non-legal considerations that influence the rate of attrition between cases reported to police and successful prosecutions."

Copies of the Pilot study on sexual assault and related offences in the ACT: Stage 3, can be downloaded via the AIC website