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Rape victims denied justice

July 31, 2020 11:59 AM

lswb (Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash)A few years ago there were often news stories of high profile rape cases which collapsed when reaching court. The Crown Prosecution Service adopted a new strategy to prevent this happening with tighter consideration of the evidence available with disastrous consequences
In the year to March only 1,439 people were convicted in rape-related cases,, down a quarter on the previous year. This was despite police recording more than 55,000 rapes in 2019-20, but only 2,102 prosecutions Three years earlier, just over 41,600 rapes were recorded and there were more than 5,000 prosecutions and nearly 3,000 convictions. The average time for the police and CPS to bring a charge increased to 145 days, compared with 108 in 2018-19.
In a joint statement, the National Police Chiefs' Council's leads for rape, domestic abuse and charging said the fall in convictions was "very concerning", adding: "[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. Victims tell us clearly how important it is to them to have the evidence tested in this way."
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.

Responding, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

Survivors deserve justice. They must be properly supported to come forward, and be listened to when they do. However, Government inaction is failing survivors of sexual violence and allowing too many criminals to walk free.

Although the CPS' new strategy is clearly badly needed, this move alone will not overturn the dramatic drop in convictions.

The Government announced a review to identify why convictions have fallen more than a year ago, but the group conducting it has only met four times and we still haven't seen any results.

Ministers must complete the review as soon as possible and urgently make improvements across the whole justice system. Survivors mustn't be left waiting any longer for the justice they need.