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CPS reports record convictions in cases involving violence against women

Three out of four cases of Violence against Women and Girls resulted in convictions

The Crown Prosecution Service has reported record conviction rates for rape and domestic violence and improvements in every other area of recorded Violence against Women and Girls prosecutions.

In the past year three out of four cases of Violence against Women and Girls resulted in convictions. Conviction rates also went up in cases of domestic violence, rape and other sexual offences, forced marriage, honour based violence, child abuse and human trafficking. The CPS has achieved its highest ever rape and domestic violence conviction rates, with 63.2% of rape prosecutions and 74.3% of domestic violence prosecutions resulting in successful outcomes in 2012-13.

In domestic violence cases the proportion of guilty pleas rose to 68.5% of all cases charged, which means 92% of convictions are now the result of guilty pleas. Cases charged which were unsuccessful due to victim issues also went down this year (13.5% to 13.2% in 2012-13).

Although the numbers of cases are low, the CPS has also seen improvements in tackling forced marriage and honour based violence. In 2012-13, forced marriage cases resulted in 90.6% convictions, up from just 54.8% in the previous year. Convictions for honour based violence have gone up to 63.0% from 50.0% in the previous year. Progress has also been made in the handling of child abuse, human trafficking and plans are in hand across the criminal justice system for improved handling of female genital mutilation cases.
Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said:

"There is no doubt that until recently the criminal justice system was failing women and girls. For example ten years ago, less than half the domestic violence cases that we prosecuted ended in convictions – that has gone up to three in four today. Changes, particularly in the past five years, are the result of a sustained effort across the entire organisation.

"This past year has brought about some of the most significant changes of all in terms of how we view victims of these abhorrent crimes. Although there is still some way to go, victims should feel that the criminal justice system is now one that listens to them, supports them, and most importantly, believes them."

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women's Aid, said:

"We welcome the increase in conviction rates for domestic and sexual violence in the past twelve months, and feel it reflects the increasing seriousness with which the CPS is addressing violence against women and girls. There is evidence of a real commitment to improving the policies and responses of the CPS at a senior level and significant advancements have been made. However, still too few cases reach prosecution. Effective prosecution is essential to sending a strong message to perpetrators that domestic violence is never acceptable, and helps to build confidence in the judicial system."

The CPS highlighted the following key achievements in the development of an approach to prosecuting VaWG offences: