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Annual CPS Violence against Women and Girls report published

Latest figures on prosecutions involving Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) have been released by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The VAWG report covers a broad range of offences including domestic abuse, rape, stalking and so-called honour-based abuse. Figures for 2018-19 show a 15.1 per cent fall in prosecutions and a 14.3 per cent drop in convictions across the domestic abuse, rape, and sexual offences caseload.
This reflects the 12.3 per cent fall in the number of investigations referred to the CPS from the police, as well as significant increases in the volume of digital data meaning some cases are taking longer to charge.

As the report shows a fall in the rate of rape-flagged charges, Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill has announced independent CPS watchdog – Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) – will hold a review of rape charging decisions to increase accountability and reassure victims of sexual offences.

Max Hill said:

"Rape is an awful, sickening offence and I completely understand why the fall in charging rates is so concerning. Partners across the criminal justice system are coming together to look at how these cases are handled and the CPS is playing its part by opening up our charging decisions to further scrutiny.

"I have every confidence in the work of our dedicated prosecutors but it is important that the public has confidence too. I intend to implement any changes which are recommended if they improve our processes and enable the criminal justice system to deliver swifter, more effective justice."

The report sets out a range of actions being taken to improve how the CPS works on these challenging cases, and to increase transparency, including:

Later this year, the CPS will move from annual to quarterly publication of VAWG data to better track changes in charging rates. A notable change in this year's rape data is the increase in the number of administratively finalised cases. These are cases where the police do not respond to CPS requests for additional evidence or reasonable lines of enquiry within three months, which increased from 21.7 per cent to 28.6 per cent.

Plans to improve victims' experiences of the criminal justice system are also in place to make sure people affected by sexual violence have the confidence to report it. Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, interim guidance on pre-trial therapy will be published shortly, ahead of a more comprehensive package expected later in the year.

The CPS is also undertaking a new project on myths and stereotypes surrounding sexual violence, acquaintance rape and digital dating in the context of changing sexual behaviours to help inform prosecutors in their decision-making.

For the report, click here.