Dame Vera responds to latest Crown Prosecution Service statistics
The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales Dame Vera Baird QC has described the latest statistics which show the rape prosecution rate has fallen to the lowest it has ever been as a ‘utterly shameful’ and has urged the CPS to change its policy and prosecute more sexual offenders.
The CPS data for rape in the year March 2019 to March 2020 has been published today (30 July) and shows:
- The number of prosecutions is down to their lowest level since annual recording began and is now 2,102 compared to 3,034 in 2018/19 (a fall of 932 or 30.75%);
- The number of convictions is also at its lowest level and is down a quarter – 1,439 from 1,925 in 2018/19 (a fall of 486 or 25.2%);
- The number of cases charged has risen from 1,758 in 2018/19 to 1,867 (a rise of 109). Although this is a slight increase (109), the number is still 2,043 lower than it was in the year 2015/16.
Reacting to the data Dame Vera said: “These rape statistics are utterly shameful with half as many rapists being convicted as there were three years ago. Rape is a serial offence and rapists carry on until they are stopped.”
The data comes as the CPS published a ‘five-year blueprint for prosecuting rape and serious sexual offences’ called RASSO 2025 which is a strategy targeting 2025.
Reacting to this publication Dame Vera said: “The CPS have to change its practice in rape now, not in half a decade. There is no complexity in why rape prosecutions and convictions have crashed.
“It is a policy by CPS only to take only rock-solid prosecutions as set down in a CPS document in 2016/17 by the director of legal services and personally driven by him nationwide.
“The Director of Public Prosecutions could reverse that immediately and he has been asked to do so by the rape campaigners for the entire time he has been in post.
“For the sake of getting a higher rate of convictions the CPS have cut the volume of cases they charge leaving thousands of rape complainants without the chance of justice, even in cases when they appear to have a strong evidential case. The bowing to rape myths must end.
“I suggest the DPP should announce the end to that policy today and then a ‘blueprint’ for CPS further improvement can be taken seriously.
“Before this change of policy CPS were rising to the challenge and increasing prosecutions and convictions at the same time.
“They saw rape as a challenge where now they’re told to see it as a barrier. There are some excellent people in the CPS and it needs this policy to be reversed to ensure that they can do the good job of securing justice which they want to do,” Dame Vera concluded.
The data published today also covers prosecution statistics for domestic abuse, hate crime and child sexual abuse and can be accessed here.