CPS Says: The CPS is working hard to improve prosecution rates across the country
A recent article on The Guardian titled ‘Convictions for rapes in London less likely than in 2015, research shows’ has raised concerns about falling convictions in rape and sexual offence cases in London, despite a rise in reports.
The CPS shares the concern about the fall in prosecutions, which is why we have already launched a programme of work to improve prosecution rates and volumes for rape and serious sexual offences across the country - it is also important to note that conviction rates of cases prosecuted have increased.
In London, both the police and the CPS have committed to an action plan to address our collective concerns about a decline in rape referrals. The plan is designed to boost the number of rape and serious sexual offence cases referred to the CPS by improving file quality and offering a better understanding of how decisions are made. The plan also sets out to improve communication between the CPS and police on reasonable lines of enquiry, mobile phone evidence and challenging myths and stereotypes around these offences.
Regular CPS surgeries to discuss early investigative advice on rape and serious sexual offences have already built better relationships between the police and prosecutors in London - helping to increase the timeliness and number of cases referred for a decision. There has also been a joint focus on training around the threshold test, reasonable lines of enquiry and early investigative advice, all designed to remove barriers that would delay a charging decision.
Rape and serious sexual offences are very complex crimes which is why the specialist team in London has been working with a local Sexual Assault Referral Centre to consider the use of medical and forensic evidence in these cases, to improve the experience for victims.
Working to narrow the gap between the number of rape and serious sexual offences reported and cases going to court continues to be a major focus for the CPS in London and across the country. The work London has been doing with the police is now resulting in an increase in the number of cases being referred to us for a charging decision. We are confident that our joint working with police and partners will bring the improvements we all want to see, but the impact of these actions will take time to be seen.