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Quarterly CPS statistics show a further drop in rape charges despite police referring more cases

Dame Vera Baird says this "continues the disastrous downward trajectory of CPS charging in rape, which started in 2017 and continues to this day."

Newly released Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) data shows more rape cases are being referred to the CPS by the police, but there has been relatively little change in the numbers of rape complaints charged by the CPS.

This Q2 data release, issued on 21 January 2021, covers the 3-month period 1 July to 30 September 2020

Over the last year, there has been a strong divergence between the volume of rape complaints being referred to the CPS by the police, and the volume of CPS decisions to charge rape complaints. This has not been noticeably impacted by Covid.

  • For rape offences, police referrals (pre-charge receipts) of rape offences were 59% higher than the historic low of Q2 2019-20. However, police referrals (pre-charge receipts) for all offences were only 7% higher in Q2 2020-21 than Q2 2019-20.
  • However, CPS legal decisions to charge slightly decreased (1%) for all offences from Q2 2019-20 to Q2 2020-21. But, CPS legal decisions to charge rape complaints are 3% lower over the same period (463 to 448). We have also seen two successive quarters of decreasing volumes of CPS legal decisions to charge rape offences.

Completed prosections of rape cases are also significantly lower than pre-Covid levels. As the CPS write: “After the significant decrease in Q1 2020-21 due to lockdown the volumes have returned closer to pre-COVID levels in Q2 2020-21.” But the decrease has been much more notable for rape prosecutions compared with all offences.

  • There were 7% fewer completed prosecutions for all offences (from Q4 2019-20 to Q2 2020-21)
  • There were 36% fewer rape prosecutions in Q2 2020-21 than Q4 2019-20.

The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, says:

“These figures produced by the CPS show that even though police have referred more and more cases to the CPS, prosecutions have continued to fall.

Since last summer, the volume of rape complaints referred to the CPS by the police has increased by 59%. Yet CPS legal decisions to charge have gone down yet again – this time by 3%. This continues the disastrous downward trajectory of CPS charging in rape, which started in 2017 and continues to this day. This is shameful and has real and profound consequences for victims up and down the country.

The CPS has been repeatedly told that this downward trend simply cannot continue. They have consistently failed to explain this collapse in prosecutions and, as their figures make starkly clear, are either simply unwilling or incapable of reversing this behaviour.

If you are raped in Britain today, your chances of seeing justice are slim. The overwhelming odds are that your attacker will not be charged. This raises serious questions for the CPS to answer, which has by now been failing some of our most vulnerable victims for years with no sign of reversal.

The continued collapse in rape prosecutions is of overwhelming public importance. Rape is a serial offence and rapists carry on until they are stopped. Through this failure to prosecute and refusal to change, we are creating more victims.”