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Johnson to stay clear of setting targets to improve record-low rape prosecutions

BORIS JOHNSON will steer clear of setting targets for police and prosecutors to improve record-low rape prosecutions, Downing Street has indicated.

It follows reports that the Prime Minister’s crime and justice taskforce was considering goals for police to refer more strong cases to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). 

Targets to prosecute and bring more cases to trial were also reported to be planned for the CPS, with the detail set to be announced later this year, the Guardian reported.

But Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “Quotas or numerical targets would undermine prosecutorial impartiality where cases are individual by nature and require a specific set of considerations in each instance.”

The taskforce, which is led by the PM, is expected to release details later this year. The unusual move is intended to tackle the shocking decline in rape prosecutions:  just 3.3 per cent of reported cases resulted in a conviction in 2019. 

The End Violence Against Women charity warned yesterday that targets alone would not solve the problem. 

Director Sarah Green said: “The setting of such targets needs deep thought and consultation, so as not to create yet another external objective which police and CPS yet again change their behaviour to meet, all the while still not focusing on victim needs and rights.”

Instead work should be done to bust “myths” surrounding rape about how victims and perpetrators behave which influences decisions by the courts and jury, she said. 

“They need rules, guidelines and resources which help them counter these myths, and absolutely no abstract target which encourages ‘managing’ their conviction performance,” she said.

Centre for Women’s Justice director Harriet Wistrich said: “The main change required is to reverse the CPS’s risk-averse approach and bring more prosecutions where the evidence supports it.”

Just 1,439 alleged rapists were convicted of rape or lesser offences in 2019/20, down 25 per cent from 1,925 the previous year, according to CPS data.

This has been attributed to secret changes in CPS guidelines to wheedle out weaker cases in order to boost its conviction rate. This has been denied by the CPS. 

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