LESS than five per cent of rape investigations in Hampshire last year resulted in a charge, new data has shown.

Home Office figures show that in the year leading up to March 2021, Hampshire Constabulary concluded 1,945 rape investigations where the alleged victim was female.

But despite this, only 84 (four per cent) of these resulted in a charge or summons.

The force dropped 1,647 investigations due to difficulties gathering evidence and 194 because a suspect could not be identified.

Low charge rates are also seen across reports of sexual offences with police in Hampshire charging a suspect in a sex offence case 344 times in 2020-21, equating to just 6 per cent of investigations closed.

This comes as the Government launches a new strategy aimed at tackling violence against women and girls following the murder of Sarah Everard in London this year.

Now, Southampton Test MP, Alan Whitehead, has branded the figures as “shocking”.

“We’ve known for a long time that prosecution rates for rape and sexual assault are woefully low. It’s great that the government finally have a strategy but I worry the resources and the attitude shift that is needed is still not there yet.”

Detective Superintendent, Neil Corrigan, of Hampshire Constabulary said: “Rape is one of the most complex crimes police investigate. The amount of rape allegations where the victim does not support prosecution is at 52 per cent.

“We also acknowledge that some victims withdraw from the process after initially engaging. Evidence gathering can take a long time and we understand that the system can dissuade victims.

“To try and fix that we need to look at the whole criminal justice system and the way rape is viewed and we’re working hard to try and change that. We are starting to see the results of stronger collaboration with the CPS with an increase in the number of charges and cases going to court. However we recognise there is much more work to do.”

The statistics showed that 84 people were charged in the year up to March but police said they charged 98.

Suzanne Llewellyn, CPS Wessex Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: “We are working hard to make sure that more cases get to court and we are committed to restoring the confidence of victims in the criminal justice system.

“CPS Wessex is working in partnership with Hampshire Constabulary and other Forces in our region to improve outcomes in rape and serious sexual offence cases, and to better support victims through the criminal justice system.

“We have developed a local improvement plan which focuses on ensuring we have early engagement with the police in appropriate cases, and that there is better joint working to build strong cases to ensure that justice is delivered for victims.”