Prosecutor raises concern over failure by police to take rape cases to court

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CREDIBLE rape cases are failing to make it to court because of variations in how they are dealt with, the Director of Public Prosecutions has said.

Alison Saunders said some police forces are misinterpreting guidelines on when to refer charges to the CPS.

It follows claims by Labour that the number of sexual violence cases taken to court has fallen, as reports of the crimes increase.

Earlier this week, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said there had been a seven per cent drop sex cases taken to court in the last 15 months, during a time when offences reported to the police rose by 16 per cent.

Mrs Saunders said: “We have certainly seen some indication that (rape) cases which we thought should have gone through [to charge] didn’t. There is best practice out there. It’s just that not everyone is doing it.”

She added: “You have some places where within 24 hours of a rape being reported to the police there is a referral to the CPS. In others (the guidance) has been interpreted as ‘send the file through when we are ready for charging’ – a much later stage,” she said.

The Yorkshire Pos­ has previously revealed just over 200 people were convicted of rape in the last year in Yorkshire as opposed to an estimated 9,000 instances of the crime over the same period. Figures also showed the four forces in the county referring fewer cases for potential charging.

Mrs Saunders’ predecessor, Sir Keir Starmer, who left the CPS last year, said he was concerned that a lower number of people are being convicted of rape.

He said a drop in referrals of rape cases from police to prosecutors might be to blame.

“We initially thought that the numbers might be plateauing and would then continue the upward trend, but then they started to go down,” he said.

“It is not due to rape offences dropping, I am certain about that. But it is very hard to pinpoint a reason. It may be related to the decline in referrals from the police.”