Help stop women being denied justice after rape

by End Violence Against Women Coalition

Help stop women being denied justice after rape

by End Violence Against Women Coalition
End Violence Against Women Coalition
Case Owner
We are a coalition of UK women's organisations working to end violence against women.
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End Violence Against Women Coalition
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We are a coalition of UK women's organisations working to end violence against women.
Pledge now

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Latest: Dec. 10, 2019

We've had a response from the CPS!

Dear all,

We have now received a response from the Crown Prosecution Service to our application for a Judicial Review for their failure to prosecute rape. 

The CPS are trying to close down these p…

Read more

The criminal justice system is failing to deliver justice after rape. 

We're taking action.


"The man who raped me and confessed to it will never be extradited and arrested, never be questioned by police, never be charged, and never be brought to trial." (Bonny Turner, survivor)

Women and girls across the country are discovering that if they are raped, there is very little chance of the man who raped them ever being brought to justice.

The catastrophic drop in rape prosecutions by the Crown Prosecution Service requires immediate action - we're mounting a legal challenge against the CPS in England & Wales and we need your help. Contribute now and share this page with your friends, family and on social media.  

Every day the CPS are letting down women who have been raped

We have heard from many women who have decided to report rape to the police; have endured what can be very gruelling questioning and possibly medical examinations; have had to sacrifice their phone, computer and personal records;  endure an agonising wait; to then be told that the case has been dropped.

When *Rebecca was raped by a man she had been dating, the police told her it was a strong case. He was known to the police, and had in fact impersonated a police officer, and threatened her at knifepoint. But months later, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case and she was left devastated.

“They said they’re thinking of dropping the case, that I’m not a credible witness and I'd be ripped apart in court. If I’m not a good enough witness, who the hell is?” (*Rebecca, survivor)

There has been a massive drop in the numbers charged

While there has been a very significant increase in the number of rapes reported to the police since 2014 (up 173%), the numbers of prosecutions has dramatically dropped (down by 44%) meaning half as many rapists are being charged with rape. 

The statistics speak for themselves and show a serious and dangerous shift away from securing justice for victims of rape. 

Prosecutors are standing in the way of justice for women 

The Crown Prosecution Service appear to have secretly changed their policy and practice and we have gathered evidence that senior managers are worried about their ‘performance data’ and are encouraging prosecutors to drop cases which might be hard to win. This means dropping rape cases and bringing fewer rapists to justice.

Our case

We will not stand by and let what progress has been made in prosecuting rape over the last decade slip away. 

Supported by the Centre for Women's Justice who are acting for us, we are bringing a judicial review against the CPS for secretly changing their approach to prosecuting rape cases. We believe the change in practice is unlawful, discriminatory and a violation of women’s human rights.

This challenge will force the CPS to look at the barriers to justice in rape cases, and address the systemic discrimination at play.

"Some of my family and friends have said I just need to get on with my life. I don’t know how that’s possible given how angry, exhausted and unsafe I feel just surviving in this world." (Bonny Turner, survivor)

The case is supported by The Good Law Project whose Director Jolyon Maugham QC said:

“The failure of the criminal justice system effectively to deter rapists is a genuine scandal. With every year that passes tens of thousands more lives are destroyed. The data shows that, far from redoubling our efforts, we have seen an 80% decline in the proportion of rapes reported to police that reach the court room. This is intolerable.” 

How much we need

Our lawyers will be paid nothing unless this case wins. But we still need money for court fees, for expert statistical analysis of the data about rape prosecutions, and to pay the Government’s costs if we lose. The End Violence Against Women Coalition is a small charity and is simply not in a position to bear that costs risk alone. It’s impossible to know what order for costs the Court might make but we’ve set an initial target of £15,000 to get this case off the ground. We are likely to need to raise more.

*some names have been changed to protect the anonymity of rape survivors.

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Update 3

End Violence Against Women Coalition

Dec. 10, 2019

We've had a response from the CPS!

Dear all,

We have now received a response from the Crown Prosecution Service to our application for a Judicial Review for their failure to prosecute rape. 

The CPS are trying to close down these proceedings by issuing blanket denials that there was any unlawful change in their policy relating to the prosecution of rape. They have also claimed that their costs incurred in responding to us amount to over £35,000. This is an enormous sum of money in pre-litigation costs. They are clearly fighting tooth and nail to bat us down.

We remain undaunted by the challenge and determined to hold the Crown Prosecution Service to account for its failings. 

Our lawyers are drafting a response and the next steps will be for the application to go before a Judge, who will decide whether the case will progress to Judicial Review. The Judge will also decide whether to grant our application for a costs capping order (meaning we will be protected from incurring all the legal costs of the CPS during these proceedings). This will be essential for us to be able to proceed with our legal action.  

Rape Justice is now an election issue and the need to improve the criminal justice system for rape survivors is contained in the Labour and Conservative party manifestos. EVAW has written to all the Party Leaders urging them to prioritise this issue, and done an analysis of the main parties manifestos. 

Today on Human Rights Day we ask you to share this page, spread the word, and if possible donate to our campaign.  

Once again we want to say a massive thank you for your support so far. We couldn't be here without you. 

In solidarity,

The End Violence Against Women Coalition & The Centre for Women's Justice 

Update 2

End Violence Against Women Coalition

Sept. 26, 2019

We've issued legal proceedings against the CPS!

We've posted a video update and thought you might also want to see our press release below - the story was covered in the Guardian, Telegraph and the Independent. Please share our page as we need as much support possible to get us to the next stage! 

EVAW commences Judicial Review proceedings against Crown Prosecution Service for failure to prosecute rape

Court documents are formally filed at High Court in milestone legal battle 2 weeks after statistics reveal lowest prosecution rate for rape on record.

A UK-wide Coalition of women’s organisations, represented by the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ), commenced legal proceedings against the Crown Prosecution Service at the High Court today (24 September), claiming that the CPS has covertly changed its policy and practice in relation to decision-making on rape cases, leading to a dramatic fall in the number of rape cases being charged.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) argues that this change in practice, and the resulting collapse in cases going to court, discriminates against women and girls, and is a major failure to protect their human rights. It is appalling that such a change should be implemented at a time when more women than ever are coming forward and reporting this serious crime.

Since the Letter Before Action to the CPS in June that outlined the case and was the first step in the Judicial Review proceedings, EVAW and the CWJ have been building and finalising the case and raising vital funds through their CrowdJustice campaign. The case has now been formally submitted to the High Court in order to go before a Judge.

EVAW Coalition Campaigns Manager Rebecca Hitchen said:

“In the last two months our lawyers at the Centre for Women’s Justice have been tirelessly building and finalising the case against the CPS and we are extremely confident in the evidence that has been amassed. Statistics released by the CPS just last week revealed the prosecution rate to be the lowest on record, showing the urgency and importance of this legal action.

“Every day survivors of rape are being failed by a criminal justice system which appears to have effectively decriminalised rape. We argue that CPS leaders have quietly changed their approach to decision-making in rape cases, switching from building cases based on their ‘merits’ back to second-guessing jury prejudices. “It is vital that the CPS, a state institution so central to women’s access to justice, is held to account for any internal policy change that has adversely impacted the likelihood of rape cases reaching court.

“While EVAW and CWJ are only two small organisations, going against the legal giant of the CPS, we remain undaunted by the prospect as we know their failings cannot continue unchecked. We have heard from so many women who’ve been raped, and from our member organisations who support survivors of rape, telling us about cases being dropped for unfathomable reasons.

“Given the strong public interest in this case we are hopeful that this matter goes before a judge at the earliest possible opportunity.

The CPS and Ministry of Justice’s own figures show that while rapes reported to the police have nearly tripled (up by 173%) between 2014 and 2019, the number of cases charged and sent to court is actually down by 51% across 5 years and is the lowest on record. (2)(3)

Harriet Wistrich, Director of the Centre for Women’s Justice who is bringing this case for EVAW, said:

“The CPS have said they will robustly defend this claim and deny any responsibility for the dramatic decline in prosecution, instead blaming the police and disclosure issues. However, we have undertaken a major research and evidence gathering exercise and have presented a large mass of compelling evidence from a range of sources, including expert statistical analysis, whistle blowing testimony, a dossier of 20 cases and accounts from police and frontline advocates, which together show that a small cultural shift at the top of the CPS has had a butterfly effect leading to the devastating changes.’

Katie Russell, National Spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales said:

“Rape Crisis England & Wales and its member Centres have witnessed the Criminal Justice System routinely and significantly failing victims and survivors of all forms of sexual violence and abuse for many years.

For the same considerable length of time, we have called for an urgent and complete overhaul of the System to improve access to justice for those subjected to these serious, traumatic crimes, which have wide-ranging, long-lasting impacts on their lives and health.

But while victims’ and survivors’ willingness to report to the police has continued to increase, criminal justice outcomes for them have sharply and alarmingly declined, particularly in the last two years. The situation is now beyond critical and cannot be allowed to continue. This is why we are supporting this legal action.”

The EVAW Coalition has been driven to action after many years of monitoring rape and justice system statistics and outcomes, and after hearing from its member organisations and many individual women about appalling decision-making by the CPS in rape cases. EVAW’s lawyers have collated a dossier of 21 cases where decisions have been made not to charge despite compelling evidence, and in some cases where men were known to be violent and some suspected of being serial offenders.

Rebecca* was raped at knifepoint and held prisoner for two days by her boyfriend, a man who was known by the police to be violent. Despite lots of evidence of violence against Rebecca, the CPS prosecutor dropped the case saying Whatsapp messages she had sent to placate her attacker could be misinterpreted by the jury.

Rebecca* said of her experience:

“I was told by the police that I had a really strong case – my rapist was known to them, and unknown to me he had a history of violence against previous partners, plus I had evidence of the attack. But a judgement was made about my physical reaction to being raped not being the right one, and the CPS dropped my case. I was denied my day in court and this man was able to walk free and not answer for what he did to me – and if he could do that to me, he could do the same to someone else.”

Gina* was raped repeatedly by her husband but the case was dropped because the CPS prosecutor felt the jury may not understand the dynamics of a coercive and controlling relationship. Rape in a domestic violence context is a large proportion of rapes reported to police and referred on to CPS.

Survivor Beth* said of her experience: “To have built the courage to finally go forward after other sexual offences and a rape had happened, and then for the case to be dropped like that, it made me think well if you’re a kid growing up with abuse then you really have nowhere to turn to.” 

A full media briefing, with more details about the challenge and case studies of cases dropped is available on request.

Spokespeople for EVAW and Centre for Women’s Justice are available to comment

The challenge is being funded by a CrowdJustice appeal:

* Names have been changed to protect the anonymity of rape survivors.

Update 1

End Violence Against Women Coalition

Sept. 16, 2019

CPS Annual Report - rape prosecutions the lowest on record

The latest shocking figures in the CPS’ annual report on prosecuting crimes of violence against women published yesterday - the 12 September - show that CPS decisions to prosecute rape are the lowest on record:

The report reveals the CPS charged 37.7% fewer rape cases in 2018/19 than it did in the previous year. 

- This is the second year in a row that the charging rate has dropped dramatically. Last year charges had dropped by 23% from 2016/17.

Five years ago, the CPS was charging almost double the number of cases that it prosecutes now - despite the number of rapes reported to the police increasing exponentially each year. 

We believe that the further precipitous drop in rape prosecutions is further evidence of the CPS’ unlawful change of approach to rape cases, and that the near-decriminalisation of rape must be stopped.

The CPS has recently sought to deter EVAW from bringing this legal action by suggesting that this important coalition of legal charities could become liable to pay significant legal costs if they are unable to prove their case.

Your donations to the Crowdjustice fund are therefore needed - as much as ever - to ensure that this action can go ahead. We ask that you please share this Crowdjustice link as widely as you can to encourage others to support our campaign.

EVAW is intending to issue proceedings within the next week with the funds that it has available, seeking permission for a full trial of the claim.

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