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September 18, 2019
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Rape convictions at lowest level since records compiled

Rape convictions at lowest level since records compiled
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The number of people investigated for rape, and were subsequently convicted, has fallen to its lowest level since the compilation of records began more than a decade ago.

There were 1,925 convictions in 2018/19, a 27% drop compared with 2,635 the year before.

This was in spite of allegations of rape reaching a high of 58,000.

Campaigners say the CPS has changed its decision-making policy on rape cases, which it denies.

Figures seen by the BBC also show the number of suspects charged with rape or another offence has also fallen, from 2,822 in 2017/18 to 1,758 in 2018/19.

In 2007/8, when records were first compiled in the current way, 2,220 cases resulted in a charge.

Of those, 2,201 cases resulted in a conviction – although some would be for investigations started in previous years.

The conviction figure takes in the number of suspects initially investigated for rape who were later convicted of rape or other offences, such as sexual assault or indecent assault.

These figures confirm a trend that’s been evident for several years: In spite of an all-time record number of allegations of rape, prosecutions and convictions are in dramatic decline.

The reasons are hotly disputed.

Campaigners from End Violence Against Women (EVAW) claim CPS lawyers have quietly changed their approach, no longer building rape prosecutions, but screening cases out if they think a jury will not convict.

The CPS – whose budget has been cut by 25% since 2010 – says it has worked hard to improve how it deals with sexual offence cases.

It explains the drop by saying that it is getting fewer rape referrals from police and that cases are more complex because of digital evidence and the demands to disclose material to the defence.

These factors have undoubtedly played a part, but I also understand that prosecutors have received refreshed guidance on rape cases.

The extent to which that has contributed to the plummeting charging and conviction levels will no doubt be the subject of legal proceedings brought by EVAW against the CPS.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49669760

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