Refuge responds to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) quarterly data summary
In response to the quarterly data summary, issued on 22nd July, Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said:
“The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) statistics report draws into sharp focus the problems with the criminal justice system and the challenges women face when reporting domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls.
While Refuge is pleased to see that the courts have increased the number of hearings they hold as they attempt to deal with the backlog to the pandemic, it is not yet meeting need, and it is vital that these delays are addressed with speed. That will require sustained, increased funding to enable the courts to continue to tackle the backlog and high caseloads.
Despite ongoing recovery form the pandemic, the CPS statistics on domestic abuse for this quarter (1st January to 31st March 2021) show a disappointing drop in completed prosecutions, falling by 6.7% from the previous quarter (1st October to 31st December 2020.) Convictions for domestic abuse offences similarly have been on a downward trend with a drop of 6.6% over the same period.
The data also shows the unacceptable length of time it takes to charge rape cases with an average 145.9 day – almost five month – wait from cases first being submitted by the police, to the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision to charge. The average time to charge in domestic abuse cases has also risen by 22% in the last year. Women are left in limbo and are often fearful for their safety.
Refuge calls for survivors of domestic abuse and rape to have swift access to justice – delays in charging decisions and to trials put survivors at risk, can compound trauma, and increase the chances of women dropping out of the criminal justice process.
Prosecutions for rape also continue to be extremely low, and whilst we welcome the government’s apology for systemic failings on rape in the recent End-to-End Rape Review, we fear the review will do very little to change the experiences of victims here and now.
Refuge continues to demand wholesale reform of the criminal justice system to ensure better outcomes for survivors.”
Kelly* is a domestic abuse survivor and a training barrister who knows first-hand about the traumatic wait from CPS:
“As a training barrister, I know how important it is for women to have access to justice. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I know first hand how the system can fail women.
I have been waiting for a decision from the CPS for more than a year and a half, after reporting rape, ABH and coercive control by my ex-partner. To date, I have still not received a charging decision. To date, the system has failed me.
I’m trying to take care of myself and remain strong – but it can be exhausting and upsetting, not knowing what is happening with my case. Every time I try to access information about my case, the CPS say, “it’s with the police”; the police say, “it’s with the CPS” and I am unable to get answers. Neither seems to be taking any responsibility for these delays, instead simply blaming each other. The system needs to work for women, and I am both frustrated and dismayed by what I consider to be a failure in my case.”
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Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.
Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org.