In a Law Gazette article published yesterday (13th November) and subsequent Newsnight programme it was revealed that the CPS had hidden performance targets linked to conviction rates. A CPS spokesperson acknowledged that the targets on staff between 2016 and 2018 that were ‘not appropriate’ and may have acted as a ‘perverse incentive’ on prosecutors, deterring them from charging less straightforward cases. That is because conviction rates can be ‘gamed’ by prosecuting smaller numbers of stronger cases and dropping weaker ones.
Rebecca Hitchen, Campaigns Manager at EVAW says:
“This is a shocking admission from the CPS, as it acknowledges what we have repeatedly claimed – that performance targets linked to conviction rates will result in CPS prosecutors charging “stronger” cases and dropping “weaker” ones in order to make itself look better. This is why the numbers of rape cases reaching trial has plummeted and why we are judicial reviewing the CPS.
This reveals additional concerns about the role of HMCPSI – how can they be an effective and independent inspectorate if they are using the CPS’s own performance measurements to assess its work?”
HMCPSI has defended its use of the levels of ambition to assess CPS areas on grounds that it did not set these targets and ‘can only assess the CPS on targets set by the CPS’. In September 2019 the inspectorate was commissioned by the director of public prosecutions to conduct a review of the CPS’ handling of rape cases. A spokesperson for the inspectorate said the review was due for publication in December and would not include any reference to the rape level of ambition.