After the recent revelation that CPS prosecutors in England and Wales are being urged to take a more risk-averse approach to rape charge decision-making, the latest figures reported in The Guardian confirm that only a little over 1/3 of the rape cases referred to the CPS between April and September 2018 (2,310 referred) resulted in the suspect being charged. This is a significant decrease from the equivalent rate for 2013 – 2014 of 62%.
Solicitor - Civil Litigation
The team of specialist civil liberties lawyers at MW who work closely with the Centre for Women’s Justice on cases involving failings in the investigation and prosecution of rape and serious sexual assault, on the part of the police and CPS, are seeing a rise in the number of rape victims coming forward to challenge CPS and police decisions which let rape suspects avoid the judicial process.
The gatekeepers of the justice system – the police and CPS - are arbitrarily taking matters into their own hands leading to rape suspects remaining at large without even having to account for their actions in the courtroom. The message this sends is that rapists can get away with it.
The legal test applied by prosecutors in deciding whether to charge/prosecute rape suspects, is of course much lower than the criminal test. Even in cases where we are seeing strong evidence in support of a rape having taken place, the authorities are refusing to prosecute and giving unsatisfactory reasons for their decisions. This causes our clients, the victims, the utmost distress on top of the emotional turmoil they have already and will continue to suffer.
MW have a team of dedicated lawyers who work with rape and serious sexual assault victims seeking to overturn or otherwise challenge these decisions. This can include claiming for compensation following such fundamental human rights breaches and the psychiatric injuries these failings can cause.
One of the major problems in this context is that there are a number of ‘myths’ as to what does and, more concerningly, does not, constitute rape (e.g. ‘she was asking for it’ based on what she was wearing/how she was behaving, and so on). The effect of such myths is exacerbated where the police and CPS themselves seem to be attempting to predict what a jury might think, inevitably based on their own prejudices. The judicial system is set up – with jurors hearing these cases from all walks of society – to avoid just such abuses of power.
There is a clear and established public interest in prosecuting rape and serious sexual assault, an offence which engages the victims’ fundamental human rights. It is well known that such cases are often ‘one’s word against another’ since they often occur behind closed doors. But the crime is heinous and the second in seriousness only to murder. Yet so many cases are still resulting in shoddy investigations and poor-decision making, which itself results in rapists remaining free in society to commit the crime repeatedly. Overall, the impression of all of our clients who have fallen victim not just to rape or serious sexual assault, but to the system awaiting them afterwards, is that no one really cares.
Just such a flawed system is what led black cab rapist John Worboys to be able to repeatedly rape some 105 women (of the known reports), using similar methods, between 2002 and 2008, despite the matter being reported time and time again. Failings highlighted there included lack of training, failure to allocate adequate resources and failure to take the victims seriously.
We Can Help
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who are victims of serious sexual assault or rape. We offer initial telephone consultations with a solicitor, free of charge, and are able to represent clients seeking to complain, exercise their right under the Victims’ Right to Review scheme, and pursue civil claims and challenges by way of Judicial Review. We are able to offer legal aid if you are eligible, and no win no fee agreements.
If you have found yourself in this situation, and want to speak with a sensitive and experienced lawyer call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.