‘Criminal justice agencies need to answer for falling rape charges,’ says Sarah Champion MP.
Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham and Chair of the APPG on Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse responded to publication of the Crown Prosecution Service’s annual Violence Against Women and Girls report:
“This data makes plain the shocking collapse in CPS decisions to charge rape cases. The CPS are blaming this in part on the large rise in the number of cases administratively finalised (where police do not respond to CPS requests for more information about a case and the file cannot proceed). For rape cases this now stands at 28.6%, for child abuse at 17.2%.
Questions must be answered about administratively finalised cases that the data alone cannot answer. Are police too overstretched to continue their investigations? How many of these cases are closed by police who are too busy, or forget, to notify the CPS? What information are victims being told about their case simply dropping off the radar of criminal justice agencies?
The real story here though is that when you take administratively finalised cases out of the equation, the CPS are still deciding to charge less cases. In the last year alone, decisions to charge rape fell by 11.9 percentage points and to charge child abuse fell by 4.6 percentage points.
The CPS say their threshold test for charging remains the same, but if this is the case how can they account for such a sudden and alarming drop? We know police are overstretched, so is it that the standard of evidence CPS receive from police isn’t good enough to go to court with?
Regarding the report’s comments that changes to pre-charge bail ‘may have impacted on the number of defendants failing to attend court’ and the possibility of ‘a link to the overall fall in prosecutions of VAWG cases,’ Sarah Champion commented:
‘Through FOIs earlier this year I discovered the number of child sexual abuse suspects released on pre-charge bail conditions had fallen by 56 per cent in a year. Survivors of abuse are terrified that police are simply unable to keep them safe from abusers.
The comments hidden in the annex of the report may be the first admission from inside the criminal justice system that something is seriously wrong with the bail reforms.
We need to create the legal presumption of bail conditions in all cases of domestic and sexual violence and abuse. The Government should use the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill to make these changes without delay.”
Notes to Editors:
Link to CPS Annual VAWG Report 18/19:
APPG Adult Survivors report (containing bail FOIs on page 13):