How lovely to see another statistical misrepresentation gallop by


Sadly, Joan Smith has previous on this sort of thing:

So let’s go back to that report I mentioned earlier, and what it had to say about false allegations of rape and domestic violence. Starmer described them as “very rare” and went on to say something that might have been written with Gone Girl in mind. “In recent years we have worked hard to dispel the damaging myths and stereotypes that are associated with these cases,” he observed with a hint of weariness. Everyone who works in this area knows what he means, and foremost among those myths is the idea that victims can’t be trusted. It’s a favourite theme of the Daily Mail, which is always ready to clear its front page to highlight cases of men who have been acquitted of rape, without pointing out that false allegations are rare.

The figures are stark. Starmer asked the Crown Prosecution Service to look at a 17-month period, during which there were 5,651 rape prosecutions and a staggering 111,891 for domestic violence. In the same period, only 35 women were prosecuted for making false allegations of rape and six for false claims of domestic violence. The standout finding was that occasions when a suspect deliberately makes a false allegation of rape or domestic violence “purely out of malice” are “extremely rare”.

Oh dear. The number of false allegations that are prosecuted is not the same as the number of false allegations of rape that are made.

Sadly, the only two things we really know about false allegations are the following. The first is that they do happen: we've (a very small number of) people currently serving jail sentences for having done so. The second is that the vast majority of allegations are not false. Our problem is that we do not know the gap between that vast majority and the number that are definitely false.

As best we know the number of false allegations is in the 3 to 8% range of all allegations made.

The point of this is not to muse on the background of what should be done about allegations of rape. Rather, it's to point, in fact to jeer, at the manipulation of the statistics that is being performed. The number of prosecutions for making false allegations is not a good or reasonable guide to the number of false allegations that are made.