Jurors in rape trials will now scrutinise the previous sexual behaviour of male defendants in a bid to increase conviction rates.
Over 23,000 rape cases are reported to the police in Britain every year but less than 3,000 end with a conviction, meaning that less than one in thirty rape cases see the attacker convicted.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, has recommended prosecutors now focus on the behaviour of the men accused before the rape, as well as the incident itself.
Saunders’ move comes after a series of rape trials have ended in acquittals, when a deeper insight into the suspect’s character may have altered the verdict.
The Evening Standard reported that jurors will now gain a complete picture of the suspects character, including any previous controlling or threatening behaviour towards women.
Evidence will be provided by CCTV footage, witness accounts and social media in order to determine the defendants behaviour leading up to the rape.
Concerns have grown in the last few years that male rapists are not getting convicted because they can convince juries that the sex was consensual.
Victims who were under the influence of drink or drugs are often not believed when cross-examined, or cannot give a concrete enough account of the events.
Saunders told The Standard: “We are looking at how to prosecute certain types of cases, the more difficult ones.
“They tend to involve drugs or drink and people who know each other,”
“Some of it will be if you have already been in a relationship, understanding the dynamics of coercive and controlling behaviour and presenting cases in a way that doesn’t just look at the individual incident.”
Delving into the sexual past of the victim has long been part of the tactics for those defending the accused rapist.
In figures obtained by The Irish Times , three out of ten victims were questioned in trial about their sexual history. In some cases, women were asked about their birth control methods and whether they own sex toys.