A third fewer rape cases are being referred by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and even fewer cases are being successfully prosecuted, according to the latest quarterly figures. The CPS’s quarterly report shows a decrease of 32% in cases referred by police for charging decisions despite an increase in reported cases. The data also reveals that the number rape charges brought between 2018-2019 fell by 38%.
A report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) issued in December 2019 stated that the fall in referrals by the police and successful prosecutions had led to a conviction rate of 1.4% of reported offences. However, the report claimed that the decline in convictions was due to the fact the whole system was at ‘breaking point’, and blamed cash-strapped police forces for losing rape allegations at the point of investigation.
HM Chief Inspector Kevin McGinty said following the release of the report, ‘while the CPS needs to improve the way it works with the police, the CPS is only a small part of a larger systemic problem in the criminal justice process in dealing with complex cases’.
As reported by the Justice Gap (here), the HMCPSI report was commissioned to look into CPS rape case responses as part of the ongoing Government ‘end to end Rape Review,’ which is examining why there may be such poor justice outcomes for rape complainants.
Following this new release of this data, the campaign group End Violence Against Women (EVAW) has written to the Attorney General expressing ‘deep concern’ about both the HMCPSI report and these latest quarterly figures. The coalition of charities and campaign groups has urged Geoffrey Cox QC to ‘reject the report and to look at alternative ways of conducting a satisfactory investigation’.
EVAW has recommended that the Attorney General ‘starts again’ with regard to examining CPS decision-making in this area. They advise that this is critical in the light of the cross-Government Rape Review which is expected in Spring 2020.
The group began legal proceedings against the CPS in September 2019 over its failure to pursue rape cases amid allegations that they had covertly changed their internal policy to improve conviction rates. Their action against the CPS calls for the ‘highest level of scrutiny from Government’ into falling rape convictions.