Less than a third of young men prosecuted for rape are convicted.
Latest figures show men of 18 to 24 in England and Wales are less likely to be found guilty of sex crimes than older men.
Women’s rights campaigners, MPs and academics suggested juries were reluctant to convict young men of so-called date rape in case it ruined their future.
Latest figures show men of 18 to 24 are less likely to be found guilty of sex crimes. Stock picture of a woman who cannot be identified for legal reasons who was brutally raped.
Experts from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) claim jurors need to be trained to deal with rape cases.
However, the figures come against a backdrop of mounting frustration with the criminal justice system after a string of rape cases were halted because authorities failed to pass on texts or photographs that supported suspects’ denials.
In 2014, Alison Saunders, the Director Of Public Prosecutions, promised to halt the decline in rape convictions.
But critics said her drive to secure more guilty verdicts – along with a raft of new guidance – risked undermining the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.
The figures, obtained by The Guardian, came from freedom of information answers released by the CPS to Labour MP Ann Coffey.
In trials only involving rape in which the suspects were 18 to 24-year-old men, the conviction rate was 32 per cent – the lowest of any age group. The number of successful prosecutions against men aged 25-59 was much higher, at 46 per cent.
For all rape cases, including those involving child abuse and domestic abuse, the conviction rate for young men was 35 per cent and 49 per cent for older men.
Nazir Afzal, the former chief crown prosecutor for north-west England and adviser to the Welsh government on violence against women, said: ‘In my experience, juries are more likely to make allowances for a defendant the younger he is – this idea that he may not have known what he was doing at 24, but if he was older than that he does.’
A CPS spokesman said: ‘Addressing the low-conviction-after-contest rate in cases involving young defendants represents a challenge for the entire criminal justi