Times caption: Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, said that crimes against women and girls made up a fifth of the CPS caseload TIMES PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD POHLE
A piece by Frances Gibb, Legal Editor, in today’s Times. Emphases ours.
Prosecutions for rape have dropped by 23 per cent in the past year even though those for other violent attacks on women and girls have reached record levels, official figures show.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) took on fewer rape cases for the fourth consecutive year, partly because fewer cases were being referred by police, the data reveals.
The fall in the number of people in England and Wales charged with rape from 3,671 in 2016-17 to 2,822 in 2017-18 was condemned as “shameful” and as a “collapse in rape justice” by women’s campaigners and MPs. They accused prosecutors of making more conservative charging decisions in response to the crisis over disclosure. [J4MB: A reasonable lessening of the witch hunt against men, which still has a long way to go.] Cases referred by police are down by 9 per cent.
Other prosecutions for violence against women and girls last year were at a record high. [J4MB: No mention of the stats on prosecutions for violence against men and boys, predictably.] Three in four cases of violence against women and girls ended in a conviction, the highest level since data was first compiled in 2006-07.
The CPS report, Violence Against Women and Girls, also shows wide variations in the time taken for rape suspects to be charged, from 38 days in the East Midlands to 123 days in the east of England. When cases do come to trial, the rate of conviction is 49.3 per cent, the highest since 2012-13 when the figure was 51.9 per cent.
Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said: “Crimes of violence against women and girls continue to make up a fifth of the CPS caseload. Our focus is on making sure the right person is prosecuted for the right offence, and bringing offenders to justice wherever possible.”
Cases of violence against women and girls were among the most complex the CPS handled. “Our priority is to continue to work with the police, to bring strong cases and respond to challenges such as the substantial increase in digital evidence that is now a common feature of these cases,” she said.
This week the CPS was accused of weeding out “weak” rape cases to improve its conviction rate.
Sarah Champion, shadow secretary for women and equalities, said: “The CPS statistics released today are shameful and serve as a condemnation of the effectiveness of the government’s strategy. The statistics clearly demonstrate the cuts have taken their toll and the government can no longer effectively prevent or prosecute violence against women and girls.”
Sarah Green, co-director of End Violence Against Women, said that the 23 per cent drop was “shocking” and came as the number of rapes [J4MB: Alleged rapes.] reported to the police was increasing exponentially annually. “This is a collapse in rape justice and we need to know why this has happened and what those in charge of the justice system are going to do about it,” she said.
Dame Vera Baird, victims lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “Despite progress by the police and the CPS in recent years, there are significant shortcomings in the system and vulnerable women and girls are still being let down.” [J4MB: Vulnerable men and boys are being treated fine, then.]
The report also showed the conviction rate for domestic abuse at its highest level since comparable data began eight years ago.
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