Rape Justice Fail

Police and courts are not providing justice after sexual violence. Women's human rights to safety and justice are being denied.
EVAW and members are campaigning for a fair justice system and better support for survivors.


  • There was a 23% drop in charges for rape last year, despite a huge leap in reports to the police

  • 2,822 men were charged with rape in 2017/18, compared with 3,671 in 2016/17

  • In 2012/13, the police recorded 16,374 rape offences. This figure leapt to 41,186 in 2016/17

  • Only 32% of 18-24 year-old men are found guilty by a jury compared with 46% of 25-59 year-olds

  • Of the 1,343 rape cases taken by the CPS against 18-24 year old men in the last 5 years, only 404 were convicted – an average of 30%

  • Prosecutors urged to drop 'weak' cases. One told by bosses "If we took 350 weak cases out of the system, our conviction rate goes up to 61%"

6 March 2019

The Home Office released their refreshed Violence Against Women and Girls strategy which included a complete review of the way the criminal justice system responds to rape, something EVAW has long campaigned for. It also contained broader commitments to tackling online offences and sexual harassment in the workplace as well as building quality work with perpetrators of abuse to prevent re-offending. However there were notable omissions, such as a failure to address migrant women who are facing VAWG and the absence of adequate funding for specialist services within the sector. Our full response is available here.

20 November 2018

John Gillen, a recently retired senior judge, was asked to undertake a review of the justice system’s response to serious sexual offences in Northern Ireland. The Gillen Report is a compelling read, he talked to all interested parties and makes bold recommendations including calling for advice and representation for rape victims, better education to tackle rape myths and measures to help jurors make better decisions. It’s vital that we learn these lessons across the UK, which is why we now need an independent review of how the justice system handles rape and sexual assault in England and Wales.

15 November 2018

The Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC published a review of “the efficiency and effectiveness of disclosure in the criminal justice system”. As this campaign has consistently shown, the way information is collected from women when they report rape – how many are asked to sign away access to all of their personal information, both on their phones and their medical and school records – can put them off reporting and add to feelings of violation and intrusion. There are real concerns about how relevant all of this information is and that it is being used to make a judgement about women’s ‘character’ and whether or not they will be a sympathetic witness for a jury. There is a real risk sexual history evidence, in the main banned in court, is being used to make decisions about whether to progress with a prosecution. The review carried out by the Attorney General largely ignored these concerns and failed to make significant recommendations in how to protect victim’s privacy and right to justice.

23 October 2018

The Women and Equalities Select Committee of MPs report on their inquiry into sexual harassment of women and girls. The report highlights how common this form of abuse ism and that for many women it can feel “relentless”. The MPs make a powerful set of recommendations, and call for action from private and public sector bodies.

28 September 2018

Lawyers are preparing to bring a case against the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) for dropping rape cases where the available evidence was strong. Women’s groups have also written to The Guardian demanding political intervention after the series of revelations on the justice systems’s failure on rape. Women lawyers have previously stepped in to hold state authorities to account when there was a failure to ensure women’s safety and equality.

26 September 2018

CPS release figures revealing a collapse in the number of rape cases which resulted in a suspect being charged, despite a huge increase in the number of survivors reporting to the police. In an editorial, The Guardian said low conviction rates should lead to renewed efforts to improve the criminal justice system.

Sarah Green provided an analysis of the issues raised by the report, and challenged the CPSs leadership on The World at One on BBC Radio 4.

25 September 2018

FOI reveals police are demanding almost unfettered access to highly personal records and data from rape victims before pressing ahead with their cases. Experts warn of a postcode lottery as, in some areas, complainants asked to disclose health records and all electronic data.

24 September 2018

Prosecutors urged to ditch ‘weak’ rape cases to improve figures according to insiders. The controversial advice to take a proportion of “weak cases out of the system” has been given to specialist rape prosecutors in training seminars, which has led some staff to fear the service has undertaken an undeclared change in policy.

23 September 2018

In the first of a series exposing how the system is failing to prosecute rape, FOI figures reveal men aged 18-24 are less likely to be found guilty of rape than older men. The conviction rate last year in rape only trials involving 18-24 year-old men was 32% – the lowest of any age group. The number of successful prosecutions against men aged 25-59 was 46 %.

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Women's groups are calling for an independent review of how rape is handled by the justice system. Next time you speak to your MP please let them know this is a priority.

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