“It is vital that when women and girls come forward to report a crime they have full confidence in the system. It is the least they deserve, but the statistics released today bring that into question.”
Sarah Champion, Labour MP
The number of people being charged with rape has fallen by almost a quarter, despite a rise in attacks being reported to police.
New figures released by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) show a 23 per cent drop in the number of rape suspects prosecuted in 2017-18 from the year before. But in the same period, the number of rapes recorded by police increased by 31 per cent to almost 54,000 offences across England and Wales. Under half of the cases referred to prosecutors by police (47 per cent) were taken forward, down from 55 per cent the year before, and police passed almost 10 per cent less suspects on.
The CPS only proceeds where it finds “sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction” and the benchmark has provoked controversy in rape cases, which may hinge on conflicting accounts given by victims and attackers. More than a fifth of rape referrals were “administratively finalised” by the CPS, up from 12 per cent in the year before, meaning they were closed without action against the suspects. The move is taken when police ask for advice but do not submit a full file for a charging decision, or when prosecutors request more information or evidence but officers do not supply it by their deadline.