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National rape lead responds to CPS report on violence against women and girls

12 Sep 2019

The CPS have released their annual VAWG report, which has shown a decrease in the number of case referrals to the CPS, and a parallel drop in charges and convictions. 

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Rape and Adult Sexual Offences, DCC Sarah Crew said:

“These figures make for difficult reading. Everyone with a role to play in investigating and prosecuting rape knows there is more to do to bring more cases brought before the courts. It is essential we work out why fewer cases are being referred by police and why charges and convictions are falling, and collectively make real and lasting improvements across the whole criminal justice system. The cross-Government end-to-end of review of handling of rape cases will help to do this and we are actively involved in it working closely with other criminal justice partners.

“Rape and domestic abuse cases are some of the most complex crimes that police deal with. We’ve worked hard to increase victims’ confidence to report, reflected in the substantial increase in reporting nationally. Behind the headline conviction figures, we are working with other agencies to safeguard victims and protect the public from dangerous perpetrators. 

DCC Crew added:

“The recent decline in outcomes for victims reflect a justice system that is stretched and under pressure. Added to this, the huge increase in the amount of digital material that needs to be analysed by investigators and prosecutors is extending the length and complexity of investigations. We are also required to obtain material held by third parties for evidential purposes, and the subsequent disclosure of what is considered relevant material. This can take many months and in some cases leads to victims’ no longer participating in the process. We are supporting police and prosecutors to help them better manage disclosure and analysis of digital material, including looking at how technology can help us.

“In parallel to the Criminal Justice Review, we are engaging with victim advocates, support groups and services to understand new trends, system challenges and what deters people from reporting or continuing to support an investigation after reporting. We hope that through this work, we can continue to improve outcomes, build confidence in the criminal justice system, and have the best support in place to help victims cope and recover. This involves building relationships with those involved in the health and societal responses to rape, including and most importantly those representing victims’ voices.”

The CPS VAWG report can be found here