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What’s a girl gotta do to get a rape conviction around here?

CN: rape, murder, violent misogyny (including detailed and specific examples). 

I’m writing this blog post the day after news broke about Met Police officer and serial rapist David Carrick. He’s admitted to dozens of rapes spanning two decades. During this timespan he was reported to the police nine times – nine times! So why wasn’t anything done? Because, like Wayne Couzens before him, this man was a police officer. They had a nickname for him, on the force: they called him Bastard Dave.

There are no words I can write that stand a chance at capturing my disgust here. But in writing, they often say you should ‘show not tell’ so instead of writing words of my own, here are some other words from various disgusting men.

“She will use me as an example. Lead me on then get me locked up when I rape and beat her! Sneaky bitch.” Joel Borders, at the time a police officer serving in the Met. Sent to a WhatsApp group that consisted of other serving officers. 

“[Domestic violence victims] love it… that’s why they are repeat victims more often than not” Jonathan Cobban, as above.

And for the grand finale, here is a transcript of voice memos sent by violent misogynist Andrew Tate to one of his victims, as published in Vice last week:

Am I a bad person? Because the more you didn’t like it, the more I enjoyed it. I fucking loved how much you hated it. It turned me on. Why am I like that? Why? I am one of the most dangerous men on this planet. Sometimes you forget just exactly how lucky you were to get fucked by me. Would you rather me pin you down and make you do things you didn’t like, or would you rather fuck ____? You didn’t like that I was thinking I can do whatever I want to you. That’s what it is. I’m the smartest person on this fucking planet. Are you seriously so offended I strangled you a little bit? You didn’t fucking pass out! Chill the fuck out, Jesus Christ I thought you were cool. What’s wrong with you?

Why am I including this one? He wasn’t a police officer, and sadly it’s not newsworthy to learn that a hideous man said some vile shit. But what absolutely is newsworthy is that these voice memos were made available to Hertfordshire Police many years ago, along with supporting evidence from other women who also alleged that Tate had raped them… and the CPS declined to prosecute. Three victims willing to cooperate with an investigation, an actual confession on tape, plus text messages in a similar vein (see the Vice link!)… and yet the CPS declined to prosecute.

While the CPS was busy declining to prosecute Andrew Tate, over in the Met David Carrick was assaulting and raping women while his colleagues called him Bastard Dave. Wayne Couzens – the police officer who’d later go on to murder Sarah Everard – was exposing himself to people and fully expecting to get away with it. And why wouldn’t he? After all, he’d done it before, and his colleagues had simply laughed at the woman who was brave enough to report it.

What’s a girl gotta do to get a rape conviction around here?

I don’t want to write any more of this blog post. I hate writing blog posts like this. I hate every single aspect of each individual case – from the first stomach-churning detail to the inevitable catalogue of incompetence and malice that eventually leads to a dead end. Time after time after time, ‘mistakes were made’ and ‘enquiries will be launched’ and ‘lessons will be learned’, meanwhile rapists like Tate and Couzens and Carrick know that the odds are in their favour.

Did you know that if you get raped and talk about it publicly, your rapist could sue you for libel? Just a fun little fact for you there. If your rapist has not been convicted, and you tell people what they did to you, then that rapist could take legal action against you for causing harm to their reputation. Rape survivors don’t get the luxury of doing what Wayne Couzens and his colleagues did – making grotesque jokes on an easily-screenshotted channel – and they certainly can’t pull an Andrew Tate and leave voice notes on other people’s phones.

If you get raped, your rapist can sue you for libel. This is something that looms large over so many women I have known and spoken to. We whisper about dangerous men, and try not to put any info on channels that can be screengrabbed and shared. We try to spread the word in ways that don’t leave us vulnerable to getting destroyed a second time. We publicly celebrate the heroes who reported and managed to get convictions, and we privately mourn those who ripped themselves to bits doing battle against violent misogyny and the apathy that allows it to thrive.

Despite the fact that rape reports are at a record high in the UK, only one in a hundred reported rapes in 2021 resulted in charges that year. Did you know that when you report a rape, the police often take your phone so they can download your chats for evidence? The police will interview you on camera as well. You’d hope that these things would provide evidence that will go to court and be weighed fairly against the rest, but in fact most of this evidence will be gathered and weighed by the police themselves, not a jury. At the moment, the Met police have 800 officers currently under investigation for sexual and domestic abuse.

Even if you survive the gauntlet run through police, you’re still at the mercy of the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), who get to decide whether or not there’s a realistic chance of winning your case. And the CPS is overworked, underfunded, and systemically misogynist too. Even with pretty solid evidence (something that can be astonishingly difficult to secure in cases of rape – a crime that almost always happens in private) the vast majority of rape reports will never see the inside of a courtroom.

How do so many rape complaints get dismissed?

Why does this happen? Ask the Met, which “has issued a list of the complaints received against Carrick from details gathered on police systems held by it and three other forces. In each report the woman did not wish to cooperate with an investigation, or one was not launched.

So weird, isn’t it! Multiple reports, across three different forces, and no one thought to investigate that pattern any sooner than 2021. What’s a girl gotta do?

Let’s ask the CPS instead. After all, they’re the ones who heard Andrew Tate saying “I fucking loved how much you hated it. It turned me on.” and concluded there was too much doubt to take the case any further. One of Tate’s victims was told by the police that:

“in sexual assault cases, the CPS was only prepared to prosecute when it felt 100 percent confident of success, because a trial resulting in acquittal would only further traumatise the complainant.”

So just to be clear, you’ll get your prosecution… if and only if you’ve done the police and prosecutors’ work for them and guaranteed there’s a 100% chance that a jury will conclude your rapist is guilty. Perhaps that’s what a girl’s gotta do. But I’m not sure what exactly might guarantee a conviction if ‘rapist literally confesses to your rape in a voice note’ is not already good enough.

And laying all this to one side, let’s allow ourselves a moment of reflection for the fact that a police officer who knew this particular victim had already been through a huge amount to report Tate (submitting evidence, handing over her phone, submitting to interviews, then chasing chasing chasing when the police took FOUR YEARS to pass the case to prosecutors) had the subsequent audacity to say that actually, the lack of prosecution is good for her because ‘a trial resulting in acquittal’ might cause her further trauma.

I’ll ask again: what’s a girl gotta do to get a rape conviction around here? You’d think, in a society that gives a shit about our safety, reporting would be enough. You report the person who harmed you, and then the justice system works to… you know… get justice. Accountability. At the absolute least to keep dangerous men from positions of power rather than giving them a fucking warrant card.

I hate that survivors who stand up to disgusting men are so often disbelieved when by rights they should be honoured: awarded medals for the valour of making it through even that initial report. I hate that these stories are so common. I hate that no amount of them will make any difference to the pricks who think they’re clever when they ask ‘why this witch hunt/trial by Twitter? Innocent until proven guilty! Why didn’t she just report it??’

If you’ve ever pondered this question or – God forbid – if you find yourself about to ask it of someone who’s been raped, I want you to shut your mouth instead, and remember the words of Andrew fucking Tate:

I can do whatever I want

He could.

They all could.




  • Mactonex says:

    Very eloquently put. Shame pieces like this still need to be written.

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    I don’t think there’s much I can usefully add to this, but thanks for writing it. I’ll contribute some comments anyway.

    I work in the justice system myself (without being too specific, I’m a lawyer) and have direct experience of some of these issues. If someone comes to us and says they’ve been a victim of rape/domestic violence/etc, we would of course encourage them to report it to the Police; but without any confidence that anything will happen as a result. As noted here, the proportion of allegations which result in charges is vanishingly small. The sad reality is that going down the criminal route is almost always a waste of victims’ time.

    I don’t have any solutions to offer. I don’t know how you change the police and CPS to the extent necessary to make them do their jobs properly. For the record, the CPS should not need ‘100 per cent confidence’ to bring a prosecution; that is literally not what the law says. But if they decide to just ignore it, what can you do? What can you do when the police have criminals in their own ranks?

    Maybe part of the answer is making it easier to bring people to justice by other means; like reforming libel laws to reduce the risk of being sued if you name your abuser. Though a look at America, which has much stronger free speech protections than us, shows that sufficiently powerful abusers still often get away with it. (Sometimes they even become President!)

    It would be nice to think that our government is concerned about all this. But they seem to believe that the real biggest risks to women are from trans people. :/ Sometimes you just don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

  • Bex says:

    It is a horrific situation. In this case the victim had personally obtained written and recorded confessions, it went to court and the guilty verdict was not unanimous. The justice system is broken at every level. There is no justice.

  • Mosscat says:

    Yep. Privately mourning those who were not believed, humiliated in court, had their clothing, occupation, life ripped to pieces. And no prosecution.

  • Goddessdeeva says:

    Brilliant piece as ever. When I was 14 I was kerb crawled all the way home by a man who twice got out of the car to try and drag me in. I reported it to the police with a full description of him and the car, down to the licence plate. He was a magistrate so it went no further. When I was raped by a boyfriend 3 months later, I didn’t bother to report it. Why would I? I’d already had it drummed in me that the police would disregard anything I had to say. We hate writing these pieces, but its important we do so xx

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