Highest ever numbers of “violence against women” cases being prosecuted and convicted in England and Wales – CPS

The CPS has seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of cases concerning Violence Against Women and Girls (VaWG) – including rape, domestic abuse and sexual abuse. This year, more cases are being referred from the police, charged, prosecuted and convicted than ever before. In 2014/15, 107,104 of these crimes were prosecuted, an increase of more than 16,000 from last year (18.3%) and the highest ever in CPS records. Likewise, the numbers of those convicted rose by over 11,000 (16.9%) to its highest level ever. Child sexual abuse convictions also rose by 19%.

This comes at a time when an increasing number of complex and non-recent cases are being brought through the criminal justice system, and significant work has been undertaken to recognise and tackle the key difficulties which affect these cases. This includes the implementation of a National Rape Action Plan, the publishing of toolkits for prosecutors and advocates on the issues of consent and offender tactics, and guidance for dealing with vulnerable victims.

Additional information in the report:

  • There was the highest volume ever of all VAWG police referrals, charged defendants, prosecutions and convictions in 2014/15
  • Over 11,000 more defendants convicted – a 16.9% increase since 2013-14 to 78,773
  • Highest conviction volumes ever of domestic abuse (68,601), rape (2,581), sexual offences (7,591), honour-based violence (129) and child abuse (7,469)
  • Over 10,000 more defendants convicted for domestic abuse, a rise just under 18% from the previous year
  • Highest ever level of defendants convicted for child sexual abuse – a 19% rise
  • Rise of 15% in stalking and harassment prosecutions to over 12,000 and of these, 1,103 prosecutions were commenced under the new stalking offences
  • Rape conviction rate fell to 56.9% although there was a rise in conviction volumes for rape of 9.9%

Domestic Abuse:

In December 2014 the Director of Public Prosecutions announced new guidance for prosecutors on handling cases of domestic abuse. These refer prosecutors to the range of ways in which abusers can control and coerce their victims through committing clear offences without necessarily carrying out physical assault, preparing them for new laws coming in later this year. The guidance also expands on the issues relating to specific groups of people including, for the first time, enhanced guidance on issues relating to children of adult victims, teenagers in abusive relationships and teenagers in gangs. This also reflects the increasing caseload of domestic abuse cases, and in the last ten years, conviction volumes have risen 131% and are now at the highest level ever of 68,601. In fact, domestic abuse cases now account for 14.1% of all court prosecutions, and the volume of prosecutions rose this year to the highest level ever of 92,779.

Rape:

More rape cases are being referred by the police, with prosecutions and convictions reaching the highest volume ever. We have worked with the police and done a huge amount in the last year on rape. This includes the Rape Action Plan, the launch of toolkits on consent and offender tactics, advocacy training and monitoring. 2014/15 saw the highest volume of convictions ever, however the conviction rate decreased slightly to 56.9%. Work continues to improve our performance on rape, and this year we have clarified guidance on early investigative advice and charging for police and prosecutors, and published toolkits on vulnerable VAWG victims. Looking ahead, a rape training programme has been developed for implementation in 2015/16 and we are working together with the police to determine what further lessons can be learned following the publication of Dame Elish Angiolini’s independent review into the investigation and prosecution of rape in London.