Fifth of CPS cases are alleged sex crimes



Alleged sex crimes and domestic abuse offences now account for one in five cases pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service, it has been revealed.

They made up nearly 20% of the organisation’s caseload in 2016-17, compared with less than a tenth a decade ago after a huge surge in the categories, new figures show.

The rise tallies with a sharp jump in reports of sexual abuse to police seen in recent years in the wake of high-profile investigations launched after the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Authorities are also mounting increasing numbers of investigations involving the internet, including child sexual abuse, harassment and revenge pornography cases.

An in-depth report from the CPS details how more defendants than ever before are being prosecuted for sexual offences in England and Wales. The number of rape prosecutions completed rose from 4,643 in 2015-16 to a record 5,190 in 2016-17.

Prosecutions for sexual offences excluding rape also reached a new peak of 13,490 in the latest financial year. Together with domestic abuse cases, the alleged crimes made up 19.3% of the CPS’s caseload, compared with 7.1% a decade ago.

The findings are outlined in the CPS’s 10th report on violence against women and girls (Vawg). Cases where victims are men or boys are also covered by the analysis. The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said: “Over the past 10 years the CPS has made significant strides in prosecuting Vawg offences.

“More offenders are being successfully prosecuted for sexual crimes than ever before, including those committed against children.”

Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “What is striking in these figures is how over the last 10 years the prosecution of crimes of violence against women and girls has become a much bigger chunk of the CPS’s work.”

Although domestic abuse prosecutions are up over the long term, the review acknowledges that the number fell year-on-year from 100,930 to 93,590 following a dip in referrals from police.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Although there has been a significant increase in police recording offences as domestic abuse-related, it is worrying that the volume of referrals from the police to the CPS has decreased yet again.

“Both the CPS and the police need to do much more to ensure sufficient evidence is collected to prosecute the perpetrator without relying on victim’s testimony.”

Prosecutions sparked by alleged revenge porn – the disclosure of private sexual photographs or films without consent – more than doubled from 206 to 465, the report shows.

It also gives the latest figures on the use of a law introduced to clamp down on domestic abusers whose conduct stops short of physical violence, such as those who control their victims through the internet and social media.

There have been 309 alleged offences of controlling or coercive behaviour charged since the legislation was introduced at the end of 2015.

There were year-on-year falls in prosecutions for “honour-based” violence and forced marriage, the report shows, while there were no prosecutions for female genital mutilation.