The End Violence Against Women Coalition (a coalition of over 80 specialist women’s organisations) today (30 July) wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking for immediate action following new Home Office statistics that show only 1.5% of rapes that are reported to the police are charged and go to trial.
The EVAW Coalition argues that this is, in effect, “a decriminalisation of this extremely harmful crime.”
The letter calls on the Prime Minister to act quickly to ensure that the ongoing Criminal Justice Board Rape Review is injected with much greater urgency including highest level political engagement. The Prime Minister should demand answers from the police, prosecution service and courts service leaders as to how this catastrophe has happened on their watch.
In a letter to the Guardian newspaper concerning the new Home Office figures the EVAW Coalition said:
“Justice system leaders, including those at the top of the police, prosecution service and courts, must be pressed on the revelation that only one in every 65 rapes reported to the police now ends up in court. If they were school or hospital leaders they would surely be put into special measures and new management brought in.”
The EVAW Coalition’s letter to Prime Minister also asks him to recognize the plight of survivors who are currently often unable to access any form of therapeutic support when they seek it. This is set out in Fern Champion’s petition calling for funding for support services.
The letter reminds the Prime Minister of the political leadership he showed as London’s Mayor when he instigated a Violence Against Women and Girls strategy and introduced an additional three Rape Crisis centers to the capital.
The letter says:
“There is an ongoing ‘Rape Review’ run by the Criminal Justice Board (launched in March this year following earlier revelations on appalling justice outcomes) and whilst the recommendations from the review must be considered in due course, we feel that this new data means highest level political engagement is needed here as a matter of urgency. The review itself also needs to make better use of voluntary sector and survivor group experts who have not yet been consulted in any depth (there has been one meeting of voluntary sector stakeholders since March). At a minimum, we would suggest there are more frequent meetings of the Criminal Justice Board sub-group, which should have Ministerial attendance to signal the importance of, and commitment to urgent improvement in this area.
We urge you to be forensic in asking justice system leaders to report to you on how and why the prosecution figures have fallen off a cliff. For those of us working in the VAWG sector, supporting victims of abuse and campaigning for better law and policy, this is deeply concerning because so much work has gone into challenging the stigma and victim-blaming attitudes to rape in order to enable more survivors to come forward and report. We also know how important it is for victims to have access to specialist support and advocacy during the criminal justice process. We urge you to require those system leaders to tell you what they know about who does and does not report rape, recognising that there are poorer justice outcomes for younger women and girls, BME women, those with insecure immigration status, and those living in poverty, for example.”
The full letter to Boris Johnson is here. EVAW hope to receive a reply soon to their letter, and will publish any replies on the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s website.