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Juries should be warned of rape 'myths and stereotypes'

Judges should warn juries about "myths and stereotypes" associated with rape at the start of trials, two senior legal figures have said.

Juries should be warned at the start of a trial about common misconceptions of rape, two senior legal figures have said. Credit: PA

Misconceptions, such as if a victim was drunk, or had previously consensual relations with the perpetrator can lead to juries deciding rape has not occurred, Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and Martin Hewitt, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, told The Independent.

Ms Saunders called on juries to hear directions on myths and stereotypes about rape at the start of the trial, rather than at the end when the judge is summing up the case.

"All of us are human - you're going to hear the evidence, you're going to make a judgment and then you're told to set your judgment aside and (are told by the judge) these are the things you should be taking into account - actually it's better to hear that at the beginning," she said.

Mr Hewitt added: “I think we need to focus on the trial process. There is some really good practice, but I still think there are too many examples where the trial process is very negative for the victim.

The two experts are heading a task force to investigate the fall in numbers of successful rape prosecutions and what can be done to reverse the trend.