Latest data shows CPS failing to meet its own targets to transform justice outcomes for rape survivors, as charging in domestic abuse cases continues to decline.
The latest data from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) released today (21st April 2022) once again shows how the CPS is falling short of improving charging, prosecuting and convicting in cases of rape, and failing to meet its own targets.
Alarmingly, the data also shows an extremely concerning downward trend in domestic abuse cases which are being referred and charged. This trajectory has been ongoing for a number of years and requires urgent action.
The CPS data covers the three-month period of 1st October to 31st December 21 (quarter 3 of 2021/22), having moved to quarterly periods from 2019/20. The tables below show a quarter-on-quarter comparison, with year-on-year comparison for the years in which data was presented annually.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition and its partners have long raised the alarm about the effective decriminalisation of rape, as charging and convictions of perpetrators have plummeted over the last 5 years.
Meanwhile, in the year to September 2021 there were 63,136 rape offences recorded – an all-time high.
In response, the government and CPS made a public commitment to return to charging levels seen in 2016, when 3,671 suspects were charged out of a total of 6,611 suspects referred by police.
At the time, this charging level was seen as inadequate – as stressed in the recent Home Affairs Committee report, but declining prosecution in recent years mean that concerningly, they are now considered a level of ambition for justice agencies.
These latest statistics show 2,109 rape suspects charged across the 12 months to December 2021, with a corresponding 3,772 suspects referred from the police. Yet again, this shows that the CPS isn’t anywhere near making the improvements needed to deliver their promise of a return to 2016 charging levels by spring 2024.
Completed prosecutions and convictions also fall short of 2016 levels as well as falling below figures from before the pandemic caused a systems shutdown in quarter 4 of 2019/20. This decline therefore cannot be attributed to the pandemic, but rather a broken justice system that is failing survivors.
The average time to charge has increased by 16 days since this time last year at a total of 159 days. We are concerned that rape survivors are facing long delays to their cases, with many waiting years to see a court case. This only worsens their experience of a broken justice system that is failing survivors, providing barriers to justice and actively harming them.
Rape statistics year-on-year
RYTD = Rolling year-to-date
|21/22 Q3 RYTD||20/21 Q3 RYTD||19/20 Q3
|2016 Levels (target)|
|CPS “Admin Finalised”||1395||1,017||1,123||761|
|Total Legal Decisions||3147||3,070||3,326|
|CPS Completed Prosecutions||2,409||1,490||2,183||5,190|
|CPS Conviction Rate||68.4%||72.1%||66.70%||57.60%|
|Av consultations per suspect||2.59||2.59||2.31|
|Av time to charge||159.29||143.75||139.62|
RYTD = Rolling year-to-date
There has been a reduction of over 15,000 cases referred to the CPS by the police and a drop in almost 9,000 cases charged compared to this point a year ago.
|21/22 Q3 RYTD||20/21 Q3 RYTD||19/20 Q3 RYTD|
|CPS Completed Prosecutions||54,480||54,047||65,285|
|CPS Conviction Rate||76%||78.7%||77.4%|
Note: due to changes in the way data is collated and produced, we are only able to compare figures in this way since 2019/20. But for comparison’s sake, below are the charges and referral volumes in previous years:
It is clear that there is a fundamental issue with the police and CPS approach to domestic abuse, with a downwards trajectory that shows no sign of stopping.
We have seen the slow pace of progress within work to improve justice outcomes for rape survivors, and call for urgent work to understand what is happening with and transform justice outcomes for domestic abuse survivors.
Rebecca Hitchen, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said:
“These latest figures on the justice system’s treatment of rape and domestic abuse are hugely concerning. The government and CPS have long committed to transforming our broken justice system, but the pace of change is stagnant.
We are particularly concerned to once again see a downward trajectory in charging, prosecuting and convicting perpetrators of domestic abuse. This is completely unacceptable and we call for urgent and serious attention to reverse this.
The public continues to hear promises from leaders to overhaul the justice system and rebuild women’s trust in it, and the upcoming Victims’ Law promises to improve how the criminal justice system treats survivors. But as long as our experiences of the police, prosecutors and court system are harmful and prevent justice, there will be no trust and confidence in the system, which means no accountability or consequences for perpetrators.
Every survivor deserves justice and specialist support. It is a national scandal that more often than not, both are out of reach due to the failure of government to prioritise funding and reform. Today’s figures once again underscore the urgent need for radical action and accountability.”
The End Violence Against Women Coalition has long campaigned for radical transformation in the response to rape, alongside survivors and frontline organisations.
This includes overhauling the criminal justice process; and sustainable government funding for vital support services, including those led by and for Black and minoritised women which are chronically underfunded and often at risk of closure.
EVAW contact: Sinead Geoghegan
Tel: 07960 744 502