Campaigners are criticising the “dismal” number of rape convictions in England and Wales, which has more than halved over the last three years.
Earlier this year, when singer Duffy detailed her horrific rape in a statement, she said she didn’t go to the police because she “didn’t feel safe”. These harrowing words were a reflection of the trauma rape victims have to navigate in order to even attempt any sort of justice.
Because the infuriating truth is that, historically, perpetrators of sexual assault and violence do tend to get away with their crime. And now, in 2020, a new report has just proved this is still very much the case.
Prosecutions and convictions have more than halved in three years. And the number of completed prosecutions in “rape-flagged” cases is also the lowest since tracking began in 2009.
This, according to ITV News, is despite a new report from the Police Foundation showing that the number of rapes reported to police rose by 260% between 2013 and 2019.
Katie Russell, national spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales, has responded to the news by explaining why this needs to be treated as a “national emergency”.
She says: “This is devastating news for victims and survivors of rape, and all forms of sexual violence and abuse. There is no disputing how dismal these figures are.
“There can surely no longer be any denying that this situation must be treated as the urgent national priority it is. If this was any other crime so serious and traumatic, with such wide-ranging, often lifelong impacts on individuals, relationships, health and communities, the complete absence of justice for victims and survivors would have been recognised as a national emergency long ago.”
Harriet Wistrich, founder of the Centre for Women’s Justice, adds: “Potentially it is sending out a message that rape is decriminalised, virtually. It is very unlikely that it will ever be prosecuted, particularly in cases where there is intoxication. What does that tell men who are determined to rape? It gives a very worrying message.”
And End Violence Against Women director Sarah Green is calling for action from the CPS, adding: “We have seen a vacuum of leadership and accountability within the CPS when it comes to rape, with no recognition of the harm done to the thousands of survivors being failed by the system.”
CPS has said it is “working hard to reverse the trend” and that the issue is a “major focus”.
It has announced a “five-year blueprint” to reduce the “gap” between reported cases of sexual violence and those which come to court.
This involves improving the work between CPS lawyers and police, “fully resourcing” specialist units for the prosecution of rape and sexual offences and “clear, proportionate” legal advice to investigators so they can focus on “reasonable lines of enquiry”.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help and support, you can call the Rape Crisis national helpline on 0808 802 9999 (open 12pm - 2.30pm and 7pm - 9.30pm daily). You can also find your nearest centre here or visit the website for more information here.