Letter to the Attorney General includes “rebuttals” document and asks him to reject HMCPSI findings on CPS rape decision making as inadequate – as ongoing Rape Review proceeds
Women’s groups have today (30 January) written to the Attorney General expressing their serious concern about the findings of the recent HMCPSI report examining the CPS’ handling of rape cases (published December 2019), and urging him to reject it and to look at alternative ways of conducting a satisfactory investigation.
After setting out that they do not make criticism of a HM Inspectorate report lightly, the End Violence Against Women Coalition, Rape Crisis England and Wales, Rights of Women, Women’s Aid, Welsh Women’s Aid and Survivors Trust, refer to an 8pp short “rebuttals” document enclosed with their letter (1), which critiques the HMCPSI report and argues that it has not answered the key question on whether rape charging policy and practice at the CPS has become more risk averse.
The HMCPSI report was commissioned to look into current CPS rape case responses as part of the ongoing Government ‘end to end Rape Review,’ which is examining why there are apparently such poor justice outcomes for rape complainants from police report through to courtroom verdict. Close examination of policy and practice at each stage of a rape report is critical for understanding when and where ‘attrition’ occurs.
The women’s organisations say to the Attorney General that the HMCPSI:
- Makes a “poor and inconclusive examination of ‘admin finalised’ cases”, a relatively new designation by the CPS but one whose boundaries are not clear to the women’s groups as readers
- Contains serious error and inaccuracies in relation to what rape related training has happened at the CPS
- Was not able to achieve a strong analysis given its poor methodology
- Includes significant generalised remarks about inevitable difficulties prosecuting rape which read as a lack of professional curiosity as to what is actually happening when the high level Government data on rape shows enormously increased reporting at the same time as a collapsing charging rate.
The women’s groups recommend that the Attorney General “reject the HMCPSI report as a satisfactory answer to the Rape Review…questions” and urgently examine alternative ways of investigating current CPS policy and practice involving external experts.
EVAW Coalition Director Sarah Green said:
“We do not criticise a significant Her Majesty’s Inspectorate report lightly, but our concerns are so serious that we felt we needed to put them on record and alert those who are making decisions about the next steps of the Rape Review.
“The Rape Review was commissioned because of obvious, alarming changes in the numbers of women and men seeking justice and actual outcomes. We need granular analysis of police and prosecutor practices in their routine handling of rape cases, and this report does not provide that. It does not help anyone who is interested – from survivors and women’s groups to police, lawyers, judges and the wider community – really see what decision making is like in relation to this extremely high harm crime. We urge the Attorney General and other Criminal Justice Board members to start again on examining CPS decision making. This is critical if the whole Rape Review’s eventual recommendations are to be sound.”
The End Violence Against Women Coalition is also bringing a judicial review against the CPS which claims the CPS has changed the way it makes decisions in rape cases in a way which is unlawful and which discriminates against and harms women.