Sentencing spotlight shines a light on rape

Latest sentencing data from the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council shows 2,222 offenders were sentenced for rape in Queensland between 2005–06 and 2020–21.

The Council’s latest Sentencing Spotlight on rape also reveals that the number of cases sentenced for rape showed an increasing trend since 2013–14.

Council Chair and former judge Mr John Robertson said that, although there had been an increase in sentenced cases, the number of offences committed was likely to be higher.

‘Rape, like other forms of sexual offending, is often an underreported crime so it’s important to remember that this data reflects the number of cases being sentenced, not
the rate of offending,’ Mr Robertson said.

‘This increase in sentenced cases might reflect a higher reporting rate, which in turn could lead to more convictions.’

According to the Sentencing Spotlight, 98.7% of adult offenders received a custodial penalty, with an average prison sentence of 6.6 years.

‘Close to one in 5 prison sentences were for a period of 9 years or more, including life sentences,’ Mr Robertson said.

‘The level of psychological trauma that this offence causes survivors is immeasurable, which is why it carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Mr Robertson said that courts consider many factors when handing down a sentence.

‘These include the vulnerability of the victim, nature of the offence, the relationship between the offender and victim and whether the offence was committed in the company of others.’

Almost all (just under 99%) of offenders sentenced for rape were male, with an average age of 31 years.

Close to one third of all rape offences from 2016-17 to 2020-21 were classified as domestic violence offences.

The Sentencing Spotlight on rape is the latest report in the Council’s Sentencing Spotlight series, which presents Queensland-specific data on sentencing outcomes for a variety of difference offences.

‘This month is Sexual Violence Awareness Month so it’s particularly timely that we shed light on sentencing trends and data about cases involving rape,’ Mr Robertson said.

‘Of course, this important data only tells part of the story and needs to be considered within the broader context of issues impacting the reporting and prosecution of these offences.’


Download the Spotlight (PDF 1.42MB) 


MEDIA NOTES

  • Earlier this year, the Council made recommendations to reform Queensland’s Serious Violent Offences scheme, including that the scheme should apply presumptively to listed offences, including rape, resulting in a sentence of greater than 5 years (a declaration is currently mandatory for sentences of 10 years or more, but discretionary for sentences of 5 years or more, but less than 10 years). Whether an offence is declared convicted of a Serious Violent Offence affects the minimum time the person must spend in custody before being eligible for release on parole. The Council’s report The '80 per cent Rule': The Serious Violent Offences Scheme in the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) was delivered to the Attorney-General on 12 May 2022.
  • Location-based data in this Sentencing Spotlight is reported by location of the sentencing court. The regions are based on those used by the Department of Education.
  • The definition of rape was significantly broadened in 2000 to capture other forms of non-consensual penetrative acts in addition to carnal knowledge. With the exception of a small proportion of offences committed prior to these legislative changes (5.8%), the sentencing outcomes reported on in this Sentencing Spotlight, including average sentences, are for offences falling within the current definition of rape.

Contact: Hayley Carter / Steph Martlew

Phone: 0459 887 077

Email: QSACmedia@sentencingcouncil.qld.gov.au