The Court of Appeal overturned a High Court decision from March 2020 that women’s groups should not be granted a full judicial review of CPS rape charging policy and practice. It comes on the same day latest CPS rape figures confirm prosecutions collapsing. 

The Court went on to grant permission and directed that  the full judicial review be heard as soon as possible in the Court of Appeal itself.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition and their lawyers at the Centre for Women’s Justice will now have the opportunity to properly lay all their evidence of a damaging and secretive change in CPS policy and practice on charging decisions in rape cases before the court, and are eager to do so.

Today’s judgement offers hope in a case that has attracted enormous public interest, brought by a small women’s charity and funded by hundreds of many small donations, many of which came from rape survivors. 

It shows the huge amount of support behind the case and we are so grateful for all the contributions made by hundreds of supporters. The case has already led to commentary around “the effective decriminalisation of rape”.

The news comes on the same day that the new CPS figures were published which show the appalling state of affairs for survivors seeking justice after they have been raped, who currently face a 1 in 70 chance of their case being charged.

End Violence Against Women Director Sarah Green said, “We’re delighted in today’s judgement. We’re really pleased that the Court today showed enormous interest in the substance of our case and its serious public interest. 

“We look forward to our day in court at the full hearing. We urge all those following our case and especially those who are elected and who have any position of authority or leadership in the justice system to read the evidence on our website and to ask questions about what is going on. This case has been brought because women have been denied justice and protection. Today validates our resistance to this.”

Centre for Women’s Justice Director Harriet Wistrich said, “This historic decision by the Court of Appeal will allow a proper examination of the CPS approach. They have accepted it is arguable that the CPS did change their policy, failed to consult and their actions ultimately led to a fall in rape prosecutions which discriminates against women who are the majority of victims. This may amount to systemic illegality”

Harriet Wistrich, “historic”.

Background

The statistics are published the day of rape convictions hitting a record low, and just two weeks after the Police and CPS were told they would have to stop using forms which demand over-intrusive examination of rape complainants’ mobile phones, following another CWJ case challenging this practice.

It is EVAW’s position, as set out in their Judicial Review against the CPS for their failure to prosecute rape, that this disastrous collapse in cases proceeding is a result of a covert policy change, meaning that in 2016-17 prosecutors were encouraged not to charge so called “weaker cases” with the aim of improving their conviction rate.

The evidence in the case is so powerful that EVAW, in an unprecedented move, made all the information they compiled public in June in order that individuals can see for themselves the weight behind the case.

Need for political attention

Women’s groups have consistently called on the ongoing Government Rape Review  to be made high priority, with Ministerial leadership. Today’s statistics show just how urgently needed change is to ensure that survivors are able to access justice in the future.

The future

EVAW remains determined to continue to be a powerful advocate for women and girls affected by violence and will continue to update you on the case.

The group’s supporters are really crucial, adding power to members’ voices. 

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