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7% of reported sexual assaults in NSW result in guilty verdict

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Of the 872 sexual assault reports escalated by NSW police in 2018, less than half resulted in a guilty verdict.
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A new report has found that less than 10% of sexual assaults reported to NSW police lead to a guilty verdict in court.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) analysed the progress of sexual assault reports through the justice system from 2018 to 2023.

BOCSAR found that 85% of sexual assaults reported to police in NSW don’t make it to court.

Of the 15% of sexual assault cases brought before the courts, less than half resulted in a guilty verdict.

Background

Around 20% of women and 6% of men have experienced sexual assault. This is according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS’ Crime Victimisation Survey found more than two-thirds of sexual assaults go unreported.

When an incident is reported, police assess whether the case will proceed to court. It’s based on factors including evidence and whether an offender has been identified.

NSW findings

There were nearly 6,000 sexual assaults reported to NSW police in 2018, according to BOCSAR. It then tracked the progress of these reports through to 2023.

When an assault is reported, police launch initial inquiries to determine if criminal proceedings should be launched. In 85% of reported sexual assaults in 2018, no legal action was taken.

Reasons for this included a lack of evidence to press charges, and victims deciding they didn’t want to press charges against an offender.

Of the 872 sexual assault reports escalated by NSW police in 2018, less than half resulted in a guilty verdict. Around 70% of those convicted were sentenced to prison. Other penalties included orders like rehabilitation programs, curfews, or community service.

Two in five cases that made it to court didn’t progress for reasons including being withdrawn by the prosecution due to lack of evidence, or because the defendant had a “mental health impairment”.

Response

BOCSAR Executive Director Jackie Fitzgerald acknowledged that “while the number of reported sexual assaults” has increased, “the number of convictions remain low.”

Full Stop Australia director Tara Hunter said there is “very little accountability for perpetrators and almost no justice for victim-survivors.“

TDA reached out to the NSW Attorney General and Shadow Attorney General but did not receive a response at the time of publishing.

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