UK Campaigners Threaten Legal Action Over Dropped Rape Cases

Published: Jun 19, 2019

End Violence Against Women

Having garnered support from both the national and London Victim’s Commissioners, SRT Grantee End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) launched a legal challenge against the Crown Prosecution Service claiming that they have covertly changed their policy and practice on rape which has resulted in a collapse in the numbers of rape cases charged and going to court, and is a failure to protect women’s human rights.
The EVAW Coalition said prosecutors had stopped sending cases to court that they feared would be rejected by juries based on bias against rape victims . The CPS and Ministry of Justice’s own figures show that while rapes reported to the police have nearly tripled (up by 173%) between 2014 and 2018, the number of cases charged and sent to court is actually down by 44%.

For women who report rape to the police this means they had 20% chance of it ending up in court in 2014, but now, when more women than ever are reporting rape, they have a less than 4% chance of ever having their case heard in court.

Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, which represents EVAW, said: “We are arguing that the CPS’s systemic failure to prosecute rape is a human rights failure and has a discriminatory impact on women, who are the large majority of rape victims. Failures by the CPS to consult on changes to policy and [disregarding] its own guidance developed to tackle the under-prosecution of rape are, we argue, unlawful.”

A “letter before action” initiating the case has been sent to the CPS. It includes a dossier of 21 cases where decisions have been made not to charge despite allegedly compelling evidence including cases where the suspects were known to be violent

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