CPS Says: Conviction rates play no part in deciding whether or not to charge a case
Conviction rates play no part in CPS decision making – so we know a story this week “CPS failing victims by cherry-picking cases’ may have caused concern.
In fact, of the cases brought to us by the police we authorise a charge in around 78%. We always prosecute where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so. We never consider how a case may affect our overall conviction rates. More on how we make decisions on individual cases can be read here.
The CPS and police face a number of challenges. Securing justice for victims of rape and domestic abuse, supporting victims of crimes, tackling serious violence, progressing cases through the justice system efficiently – these must be our shared priorities.
It is therefore important to recognise the excellent work being done by the CPS and policing colleagues to tackle these issues. Take our Joint National Action Plan on rape.
That has led to more cases charged, better relationships between police and prosecutors, and more victims seeing justice. Since its inception in January 2021, we’ve seen an 86% increase in the number of charged adult rape cases.
We intend to continue this work to extend to all crimes where we will similarly transform the victim experience by working with the wider justice system, third sector and victim groups.
We have also worked with senior police colleagues to create a new charging model that balances speed of charging and file quality, ensuring that strong cases go before the courts.
Any suggestion that it would be better for victims for cases that do not meet the test for prosecution to just go to court anyway, for example in the field of domestic abuse cases, is irresponsible and simply wrong. Charging decisions are not a bureaucratic hoop to be jumped through.
A domestic abuse or stalking case may appear simple at first, perhaps involving an ‘obvious’ offence like common assault or criminal damage which could be instantly charged and in a magistrates' court the next day.
But they are perfect examples of where a specialist lawyer with access to a full police file of background offending can spot a wider pattern of criminal behaviour, bring stronger charges and ensure the long-term safety of victims.
We offer decisions in ‘high-risk’ domestic abuse cases within three hours. Other lower risk cases need to be further investigated by police with the victim protected throughout.
We understand the extreme pressures and criticism the Met has come under in recent years. We stand ready to continue to work closely with the Met Police to improve the standard of the evidence files they send to us to ensure our decisions are as speedy and well-informed as possible. It is not an easy task but it can only happen with strong partnership.