New research is needed to understand why there are massive variations in the number of rape cases being reported in different regions, Police Scotland has been told.
HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) made the recommendation after a new report revealed the Fife council area had seen reported rapes rise by 85% in the last year, while some other areas had seen a drop of almost 90% in such cases.
HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, Derek Penman, said: "The majority of rape victims in Fife commented favourably on how they were treated by the police, with the investigative process and their options clearly explained to them. This is echoed by the support groups who report an attitudinal change by police in the investigation of rape with a greater focus on empathy shown to the victim.
"However, I recommend Police Scotland works with its criminal justice partners and rape advocacy groups on ways to measure the victim’s confidence and satisfaction as it was reported to us that almost half of rape victims were not happy with the level of feedback they received as the investigation progressed through the criminal justice process."
Against a backdrop of an 85% increase in reports, Fife Division had one of the highest detection rates for rape in Scotland during 2013/14. Relationships with the voluntary sector victim support agencies are good, although they are experiencing heightened demand for their services as a result of the increasing number of rape reports.
The report also identifies that the model of the national rape taskforce and the 14 divisional rape investigation units is a good one but its effectiveness is hampered by the current lack of an integrated IT system.
Mr Penman added: "There were examples of good practice in Fife which could be reinforced across Scotland.
"The inspection also highlights there are widely varying figures for reporting across the country with rape reports increasing in 19 of the 32 local authority areas, but dropping markedly in the 13 others. I have suggested Police Scotland commission research to better understand the local variations. "I support the strong operational focus on domestic abuse and rape investigations, but there can be significant cross-overs between these inquiries and I recommend Police Scotland review the management structures of both task forces to consider if it may be beneficial for them to be brought together under a single public protection banner."
The report contains eight recommendations for Police Scotland. In addition to the points mentioned above, the recommendations cover training and resourcing, monitoring the impact of preventative measures and working with victim support agencies to balance the needs of the victim and the criminal justice process in non-recent cases. Police Scotland is also encouraged to extend the scope of the National Rape Review team to be more intelligence and risk-led.
To download the report, visit: http://www.hmics.org/sites/default/files/publications/HMICS%20-%20Local%20Policing%2B%20Inspection%20of%20the%20Investigative%20Approach%20to%20Rape%20in%20Fife%20Division.pdf