The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has been heavily criticised for rape convictions falling to a record low. New data has revealed that the CPS has prosecuted and convicted fewer people for rape in the year to March 2020 than in any other year for which data exists.
According to new data, despite reported rapes increasing, prosecutions and convictions more than halved in the past three years. Police have recorded upwards of 55,000 rapes in 2019-20 but these led to just 2,102 prosecutions and 1,439 convictions. This is compared with three years earlier when just over 41,600 rapes were recorded which led to more than 5,000 prosecutions and nearly 3,000 convictions.
It is believed that the CPS are avoiding taking cases to trial due to the risk of jurors’ myths and misconceptions about what a rape victim should look and sound like, especially when alcohol or mental health problems are involved. In 90% of rapes, the parties are known to one another, but acquaintance rapes can be difficult to prosecute.
The amount of rape cases referred by police to the CPS has seen a steep drop of 40% in three years. However, the Director Public Prosecutions (DPP), Max Hill has denied the CPS was sending a message to officers not to send them challenging cases.
This contradicts a shared statement by the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s leads for rape, domestic abuse and charging who indicated: “[W]e are hearing from our officers that it is becoming harder to achieve the standard of evidence required to charge a suspect and get a case into court.”
Sarah Crew, the most senior police officer for rape in England and Wales issued a statement confirming that officers were trying “really hard” to work with prosecutors to reach the required standard, but were finding that the amount of information required had increased and the process was taking longer. “The second point that they tell me is that they think that the interpretation of what is required, the evidential test, has changed.”
The news came on the same day that the CPS announced a five-year blueprint to tackle the “justice gap” between the number of reported rape cases and those that make it to court, promising improved working between prosecutors and police, “fully resourcing” specialist units, and a consultation on pre-trial therapy guidance and training for prosecutors on victim and offender behaviour.
The victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird, said the new low in CPS figures meant at least 1,000 fewer rapists were being prosecuted than two years ago, a fact that was “utterly shameful”. She has previously said that rape had in effect been decriminalised.
Sarah Green, director of End the Violence Against Women, said: “Today’s figures show starkly that we are right to say rape has been effectively decriminalised. What else can you call a one in 70 chance of prosecution? The DPP’s constant exhortation to victims that they must come forward is frankly too much to take.”
Victims of violent offences such as sexual assaults are able to apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). ). The CICA is a government funded body for the victims of blameless crimes.
Farleys Solicitors represent hundreds of victims who have been subjected to horrific sexual assaults. For these victims we realise there is unfortunately no getting away from the horrendous assaults they endured. However pursuing a claim often helps our clients to bring closure to their ordeal, to provide the resources to fund medical treatments and therapy they may require. Payments are calculated and awarded by reference to a tariff of injuries, which can compensate for sexual and physical abuse but also mental injury following a crime of violence.
You can read more about CICA claims or read recent case studies on our website.
Our dedicated team support victims throughout the process, treating every case with the sensitivity, confidentiality and integrity it deserves. Get in touch for a confidential chat today on 0330 134 6430 or complete our online form and a member of the team will get in touch with you.