Only 37 perpetrators were found guilty of date rape and spiking incidents between 2017-2020, despite hundreds of recorded crimes, NationalWorld can reveal.
It comes as part of our exclusive investigation into spiking, which also shows the true scale of attempted date-rape cases in England and Wales each year goes unknown.
Data from the Ministry of Justice analysed by NationalWorld shows that 49 prosecution cases were launched between 2017 and 2020 in England and Wales - with just 37 people ever being brought to justice.
NationalWorld’s findings relate to a charge called ‘administering a substance with intent’.
It means to stupefy or overpower a person with drugs in order to engage in sexual activity.
675 recorded crimes and 37 convictions
There has been a conviction rate of 75.5% of those prosecuted during that four year period, although some prosecutions in 2020 might not have been concluded.
Out of 40 police forces, there have been 675 recorded crimes in the same four-year time scale, a freedom of information request to the Home Office had revealed.
The way the Home Office records so-called date-rape and spiking offences leaves a question mark around the prevelance of such crimes - where drink or drugs may be used before a sexual assault.
This is because perpetrators who are charged both with spiking an individual and for committing a more serious offence such as rape would be recorded under the ‘principal’ crime only.
The principal offence is normally the one with the most severe maximum sentence in law – or, after conviction, the one the judge gives the most severe punishment for.
The maximum sentence for both sexual assault (of those aged 13 or over) and spiking is 10 years. For rape it is life.
That may mean the police figures only refer to spiking offences that did not result in a sexual assault and the true scale of spiking offences recorded by officers goes unknown.
The approach to recording principal offences has prompted a leading charity on sexual violence to call for better logging of attempted date-rape and spiking offences so the public has a better understanding of prevelance.
Four prosecutions were ‘principal offences’
The Ministry of Justice court data captures everybody convicted of spiking regardless of other crimes committed.
According to their figures, only four out of the 45 prosecutions between 2017 and 2020 were cases where spiking was the principal offence – implying the vast majority of cases where a perpetrator is brought to justice are those where a rape or other serious sexual assault took place.
True scale of date-rape unknown
Jayne Butler, chief executive of of Rape Crisis, said: “Date-rape, as with any sexual assault or rape, is already hugely under-reported: it’s very difficult to get a picture of the true scale of the crime.
“Recording just the principal offence further prohibits the possibility to measure how widespread this problem is.
“There has been a lot of dialogue recently around spikings, and many women are rightly concerned about the frequency of them. This is having an impact on their sense of safety.
“We would encourage data collection which enables the public to gain a better understanding of how prevalent these offences are.”
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “Date rape is a despicable crime which devastates lives and can rightly attract a life sentence.”
She added that recent reports on needle spiking were “extremely disturbing” and that police are taking it extremely seriously.
It comes after the NPCC revealed to NationalWorld that forces had recorded 274 reports of spiking by injection as of 8 November.
“We remain in close contact with the police on this issue, urge anyone with information on these incidents to contact their local force and the Home Secretary is receiving regular updates,” the spokeswoman added.
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