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CPS changes to rape prosecutions were ‘unlawful’ and led to decline in court cases

UNLAWFUL changes to rape prosecution policy have led to a shocking and unprecedented decline in the number of rape offences taken to court, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Between 2016 and 2018, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) took a series of actions that changed the way cases of alleged rape and other serious sexual assaults are considered by prosecutors, leading the service to become more risk-averse about the cases it prosecutes, according to the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition.

The coalition is bringing a legal challenge against the CPS, arguing that these actions have given rise to “systemic illegality.”

At a hybrid hearing today, lawyers for EVAW argued that the CPS’s actions were unlawful, and the process by which it took these actions “demonstrates a wholesale disregard for the principles of legality and good administration enshrined in public law.”

Ahead of the hearing, EVAW coalition director Sarah Green said: “It is very clear from the data, and from what women using the support services provided by our members are experiencing, that the bar has been raised on charging in rape cases — leaving women denied justice and dangerous offenders getting away with it.

“We are here for every woman and girl who has sought, is seeking or will seek justice in the future.”

Lawyers for the CPS argued the case was not suitable for legal challenge and asked the Court of Appeal to dismiss the claim.

The hearing is expected to end tomorrow and the judges are expected to reserve their ruling for a later date.

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