Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC responds to reports that Prosecutors have been urged to ditch “weak” rape cases to improve figures.
Dame Vera Baird said “This approach is completely hostile to the principle of access to justice. The point of the CPS is to bring fair prosecutions, not to deliberately avoid bringing them and to abandon hundreds of victims, in order to make their conviction rate look better.
I would be very surprised if there isn’t a judicial review here in the public interest.
If the CPS think that this will make them look better to the public they need to think again. How appalling to put the appearance of their organisation before their obligations to the public.
The CPS have reportedly been told to take “350 cases out of the system in order to increase their conviction rate 61%“. Before this diktat, these 350 cases seemingly would have passed the necessary test to be prosecuted (a greater than 50% likelihood of conviction by a jury). It seems that rape cases will now require a 60%, 70% or 80% likelihood of conviction – but only rape cases.
The CPS knows that myths about woman and rape are rife amongst jurors as with the public at large. Their job is to use insight and skill to overcome these obstacles to justice. The reaction from some CPS staff shows their own shock at being told to stop trying and only prosecute rock solid certainties.
Cases involving younger or more vulnerable complainants or those with mental health issues will all be in the “too difficult category” as set out by Messrs McGill and More. There couldn’t be a clearer signal to predatory criminals that if they abuse those victims the state will leave them alone. And there couldn’t be a more damaging sign of support for the rape myths that are still believed in our society.