The Governments Aim to Increase Prosecutions for Rape Cases

By Admin in Latest News on

The Criminal Justice System has now reached crisis point when it comes to the investigation and prosecution of rape cases. As a result, the government intends to fund over £400 million into rectifying this, resulting in a sharp rise in rape prosecutions over the next three years. 

In the year ending March 2020, 99% of rapes reported to police in England and Wales resulted in no legal proceedings against alleged attackers. With the government proposals to focus heavily on prosecuting those accused of rape it is important now more than ever for those accused of any sexual offence to contact specialist solicitors immediately. 

Why has there been a decrease in rape prosecutions?

Since 2016 the prosecutions of those accused of rape has taken a sharp decline. Government research found that the reasons for this are complex and wide-ranging. Some cases suffer from a delay in investigation, lack of specialist resources and/or inconsistent support for victims. It was also identified that the working relationship between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service was lacking and part of the invested funding will go towards rectifying the working relationship between the two. 

What do the government propose to do?

The government have pledged over £400 million worth of funding to bring prosecution levels back up to pre 2016. This would see a much more robust police investigation into those accused, and will take away the emphasis on the need for complainant credibility or willing engagement with a prosecution. 

Less emphasis on Complainant credibility 

PCD Solicitors often act for clients accused of the most serious sexual offences and in most cases the question of the credibility of the complainant is always relevant. 

Sexual offences usually occur in private with no witnesses and without CCTV, many cases therefore do come down to one persons word against another. In defending a case it is important that the "word" of the complainant in questioned, this involves making the relevant enquiries into a complainants past and whether they are a person of good bad character or not. 

With regards to forensic evidence this does not conclusively prove that a complainant was raped. One of the most important elements to the offence of rape is 'consent', where a suspects defence is that the sex or sexual act was consensual the CPS will need to provide more than a positive forensic result. 

One way in which the government and CPS aim to ensure more rape allegations are put before the court, is by not allowing the lack of a complainants credibility prevent a prosecution and to ensure complainants are offered the support, access to services, and special measures in the trial process to proceed with a prosecution. 

Increase in Victim Support

Many cases are taken no further by the police or CPS because the complainant becomes unwilling to engage. This is partly because the investigation is taking too long and the police and prosecutors are not engaging as frequently and as continuously as they should with the complainant. 

The government and CPS plan to make the trial process easier for  complainants, and to work together more productively to ensure complainants get the support and continuity they need during an investigation. This will hope to ensure that a complainant does not feel they are being taken seriously and that their case is progressing.

Recruiting more specialist sexual violence officers/prosecutors 

The government plan to increase staffing across the police and the Crown Prosecution Services. By implementing specially trained officers and prosecutors this will increase productivity and ultimately lead to more prosecutions. This will tackle delay issues and the lack of specialist resources. 

Our response to the governments proposals

It is always a concerning time for those accused of sexual offences, but it should be even more so now due to the push throughout the criminal justice system to increase prosecutions for such offences. The pressure is on the police and CPS to charge and for numbers to increase. Understanding the impact of this on the accused PCD Solicitors are more than ever driven to robustly defend our clients. 

PCD Solicitors take a very pro-active approach to pre-charge work and we do believe that sadly, those accused of serious and very damming offences who do not have legal representation throughout the investigation, are those more likely to be charged and to be taken  to court. To prevent this is is extremely important that a suspect is represented at the police station investigative stage of their case so that any potential evidence can be identified and addressed in the best interests of the suspect with a view to prevent a prosecution.

If you are standing accused of a sexual offence please contact one of our specialist lawyers for a free and initial consultation.