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The CPS is failing rape victims. That’s why we’re taking legal action

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This is a sad day. I belong to a national coalition of women’s organisations which have finally been forced to launch a legal challenge against the Crown Prosecution Service for its failure to prosecute rape.

We believe the CPS has altered its approach in how it makes decisions on whether to charge or drop rape cases. For almost a decade, the CPS used a “merits-based” approach to building rape cases. This means working from a thorough consideration of the law on rape (the seeking as well as the giving of consent, and being in a fit state to do so) and building a case that assumes the jury will make a decision without relying on “rape myth” prejudices.

We believe the CPS has reverted to permitting the second-guessing of jury prejudices, which is a disaster for justice for a crime that is already a terrible fit in our adversarial system. We believe this change has been made covertly, possibly with a view to performance-managing CPS outcome statistics on rape.

The change in approach has had a huge impact on the number of cases reaching court. Figures shared in the 2018 CPS annual report on crimes of violence against women show there was a 23.1% drop in the number of rape cases charged in the previous year, despite a 16% increase in police recorded rape over the same period.

Figures not yet published (but shared by the government with stakeholders)........

© The Guardian