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Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the detection rate for (a) rape and (b) other sexual offences was in each police force area in England and Wales in each year since 1997. 
Since 1997 there have been a number of significant changes to the way that sex offences are defined and recorded by the police. These make it impossible to compare in a direct way recent figures with those from earlier years. Changes include:
(i) A revision to the counting rules for recorded crime and the expanded coverage which came into effect on 1 April 1998;
(ii) The revised detections guidance issued in April 1999;
(iii) The introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in April 2002;and;
(iv) The Sexual Offences Act 2003 in May 2004, which altered the definition and coverage of sexual offences, in particular, indecent exposure is now classified as a sexual offence.
The existing statistical evidence suggests that both the changes to detections guidance and the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) had a marked impact on the reduction in detection rates for rapes since 1997. The Home Office is currently researching in detail recent changes in detection rates in rape cases in England and Wales, including variation between forces.
In 2002 the Government published the Rape Action Plan, in response to the thematic inspection into the investigation and prosecution of rape cases. A
follow-up inspection took place earlier this year, and its findings and recommendations will be published in the autumn. This will inform us how far the recommendations of the Rape Action Plan have been implemented by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Guidance on the Investigation of Serious Sexual Offences was published by Centrex and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in 2005. The guidance presents detailed recommendations for all stages of an investigation, from when the crime is reported to when an offender is identified and charged.
|Table 1: Detection rates( 1) for rape offences by police force area|
|Police force area||1997||1998-99( 2)||1999-2000( 3)||2000-01||2001-02||2002-03( 4)||2003-04||2004-05( 5)||2005-06|
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