Published: 11:54, 20 October 2019
| Updated: 14:11, 20 October 2019
Rape suspects are asked to self-define their gender when under investigation by Kent Police, it has been revealed.
The force says it is currently managing three convicted rapists who identify as female.
Such an approach has prompted outrage by women's rights group Fair Play for Women who state it is highly offensive for a woman who was raped to have it recorded that the attacker was female.
Nicola Williams, director of the organisation which disclosed gender identification policy among police forces across England, told the Sunday Times: “You can’t get much more of a male crime than rape."
However, Kent Police, which hadn't supplied details of its exact policy but confirmed gender would be recorded as provided by the suspect, said: "When an individual is under investigation for rape or any other offence they will be asked to self-define their gender and will be treated accordingly.
"In relation to the specific offence of rape the points to prove are very clear and will be explored thoroughly by the investigation team, which could include medical records and forensic evidence."
The force said Home Office crime statistics should remain unaffected because the offence of rape must involve male genitalia.
Gender reassignment after the incident would not affect the recording of the crime, it added, however there may be cases where a female is under investigation for rape or have a conviction for rape committed when they had male genitalia.
Det Supt Coretta Hine, of Kent Police’s protecting vulnerable people command, said: "Victims are at the heart of everything we do. As an organisation we recognise and fulfil our commitment to delivering a first class service that complies with the Equality Act 2010 and Gender Recognition Act 2004.
"Rape is one of the key priorities for Kent Police. As an organisation we have been graded as outstanding by independent assessors HM Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services for the last four consecutive years, for the way we treat the public and staff.
"Kent Police currently manages three offenders with convictions for rape who now self-define as female."
Some forces, such as Dorset and North Wales, also record the person's previous identity. All such data is submitted to the Home Office by every force in England and Wales under the annual data requirement (ADR), though this allows only male or female options.
Latest Ministry of Justice data shows that 329 sexual offences recorded by Kent Police led to a prosecution in 2018 – 34% fewer than two years earlier.
Sexual offences include rape and sexual assault, crimes against children including sexual abuse and grooming, and crimes that exploit others for a sexual purpose.
Imprisonment was the most common punishment, with 98 people sentenced to immediate custody.
A further 21 sexual offenders were given a community sentence, while 13 received a suspended sentence.
To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here.