Number of suspects facing prosecution for rape rose by 35% in 2020

Last year the DPP ordered prosecution of 168 suspects charged with rape, says new data

The number of suspects facing prosecution for rape offences increased by 35 per cent last year, new figures show.

Last year the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)ordered the prosecution of 168 people charged with rape, up from 124 in 2019. Prosecutions of such offences have risen over the past decade, the data released by the Office of the DPP show. There were 68 rape suspects facing prosecution in 2010, 94 in 2011, and then a drop in the number to the mid-70s for the following three years. Prosecutions for rape began to rise again after 2014.

Meanwhile, 530 suspects faced prosecution for sexual offences in 2020, up 15 per cent from 459 the previous year. This category includes sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, buggery, and defilement among other crimes of a sexual nature. In 2010, the DPP directed that 254 individuals be prosecuted for sexual offences.

‘A fraction’

Chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell, welcomed the increase, but she said the number of rape prosecutions is “still far too low” and represents “only a fraction” of those reported to gardaí.


The support service estimates around 14 per cent of rape cases reported to gardaí are sent forward for trial, while it believes 90 per cent of rape victims do not report such crimes at all.

“Clearly a lot needs to change in our justice system and in our society to increase accountability and justice for victims/ survivors of rape and other sexual crimes,” she said.

While it is not clear why prosecutions for rape and sexual assault have increased, Ms Blackwell suspects newly established specialist Garda units in every policing division across the country, along with higher judicial capacity, are likely to have contributed.

“We believe that it is also due, in part, to a somewhat increased awareness among victims that rape and sexual abuse is never their fault nor their shame, that they have been harmed and that it is a crime,” she said.

Ms Blackwell said many people tell the service they are determined to make sure what happened to them will not happen to anyone else.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s 24-hour helpline can be reached on 1800 77 88 88

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter