THE PROPORTION of Wiltshire rape allegations that made it to court halved between 2015 and 2018, figures show.

Of 609 rapes reported to police in the county in 2017/18, only 61 were referred to Crown Prosecution Service lawyers for a decision over whether or not to charge the alleged abusers, according to a report compiled by police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Wiltshire Police and the CPS have stressed their commitment to the victims of the shocking sexual attacks.

But Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner, said the report made for disturbing reading: “I understand there are several factors for why this figure is so low, including victims not wanting to progress investigations, but it doesn’t send the right message to victims of rape or sexual abuse.”

According to the HMIC report, rape reports in Wiltshire increased from 406 in 2016/17 to 609 the following year.

However, of these only 61 were referred to the CPS lawyers by police for a decision on whether or not the alleged rapist should be charged. In less than half of these cases – 26 out of 61 – the CPS gave police the green light to charge the suspect.

Of 21 cases taken to court, the Crown secured 18 convictions – while three cases were thrown out.

Asst Ch Const Maggie Blyth of Wiltshire Police said the force was committed to tackling sexual violence. But she added: “We do recognise that our outcome rates are an area of concern.

"Our focus has already turned to improving our investigations, as well as working with the Crown Prosecution Service, and other agencies, on charging decisions and supporting victims throughout the whole investigative process.”

Police commissioner Mr Macpherson said: “I will be speaking to the chief constable about my concerns and asking him to keep me updated on what the force will be doing to address this issue.”

A spokesman for the CPS said: “When a file of evidence is submitted to us by the police, we will carefully review this file in accordance with our rape policy and the Code for Crown Prosecutors in order to decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute that case.”

Last week, a Wiltshire man in his 50s was sentenced to three years and 10 months imprisonment for raping his sister in the early 1980s.