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Prosecution statistics published for 2020-21


Prosecution data covering the first full year of the coronavirus pandemic has been published by the CPS today.

The statistics, which run from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, show the CPS caseload is 50 per cent higher than its pre-pandemic levels at 165,157 - although this has reduced from its peak of more than 180,000 live cases last August.

Rape charges have risen by almost five per cent over the year, but there were 330 fewer convictions due to the impact of court closures during the first lockdown. 

However, there has been a steady recovery in the number of completed rape prosecutions since courts began to reopen last summer. Allied with a rise in referrals by police and a four percentage point increase in the charge rate to 62.9 per cent, in time this should mean more perpetrators seeing justice.

The CPS is also increasing resources for our specialist Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) units so they are equipped to deal with more cases, more quickly.

Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “Our prosecutors have performed an essential public service throughout this pandemic year, with almost 310,000 convictions secured despite the challenges we have all faced.

“Safely completing outstanding prosecutions is a CPS priority for the next 12 months and we are working with partners across the criminal justice system to reduce the backlog.

“We are also continuing our ongoing efforts to improve every aspect of how offences of violence against women and girls are handled - and reduce the unacceptable gap between reports of these devastating crimes and victims seeing justice.

“There is still a long way to go but we are beginning to see some progress in the number and proportion of rape cases being charged, which should in time see more rapists held accountable for their devastating actions.

“In addition, we strongly empathise with the torment domestic abuse victims and their families have suffered during the pandemic and the CPS is prioritising measures to better protect them and bring more offenders before the courts.”

The data comes a day after the Home Office launched its Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls strategy, which the CPS is taking an active role in contributing towards.

Within the strategy, the CPS has set out the following commitments for the coming months:

  • Updating training, guidance and policies for domestic abuse offences;
  • Publishing victim-focused policies setting out what survivors of rape and sexual assault can expect from the criminal justice process;
  • Expanding our involvement in the ‘pathfinder’ projects under Operation Soteria, which aims to achieve lasting change in how the police and CPS work together on rape cases.

Earlier this year the CPS and NPCC published the Joint National Action Plan which sets out a wide-ranging plan for greater collaboration to improve the response to RASSO. It is designed to ensure victims have confidence in the criminal justice system and receive the best possible support and care whilst investigations and prosecutions take place.

The CPS is one year in to a five-year strategy to bring about a step change in how it works with all parts of the criminal justice system to reverse the sharp drop in prosecutions.

We have tested different approaches across the country and are working with the police and government to launch pathfinder projects to test innovative ways for the CPS and police to work together to build strong rape cases and to give us clear evidence of what measures have the biggest impact. An early evaluation of these efforts are set out in our report, Closing the Gap. 

  • If you need support for rape or sexual abuse, you can call the 24-hour freephone National Abuse Helpline run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247.
  • Alternatively, you can call the Rape Crisis national freephone helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12.00-2.30pm and 7.00-9.30pm every day of the year)

Notes to editors

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