The figures also indicate a sharp increase in the volume of rape prosecutions (10.2 per cent), and a slight rise in the rape conviction rate (2.9 per cent) between October 1 and December 31.
Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC responded by suggesting the data was indicative of the CPS’s determination to “drive up” the number of cases going to court.
However, Rebecca Hitchen, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said she was “hugely concerned” by the “downward trajectory” in charging, prosecuting and convicting perpetrators of domestic abuse.
Notable changes in comparison with the previous three month period include a 14.7 per cent increase in the volume of convictions for rape, from 407 to 467; a 4.6 per cent increase in the volume of suspects being charged for rape, from 526 to 550; and a 10.2 per cent increase in the volume of rape prosecutions, from 600 to 661.
Significantly, there was also a 23.7 per cent increase in pre-charge rape referrals from the police, up from 887 to 1,097. The figure includes both cases referred for early advice and requests for charging decisions.
The murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa in 2021 have focused attention on the violence against women – and the latest CPS figures suggest prosecutors are keen to target the issue.
Mr Hill said: “We are determined to drive up the number of rape cases going to court and while there is still a long way to go, it is encouraging we are beginning to see progress.
“Together with the police, we are improving every aspect of how these devastating crimes are dealt with.”
He added: “Close joint working from the very start of an investigation means we can build the best possible cases more quickly so more victims see justice. The rise in referrals for advice or charging decisions will lead to more trials and more convictions.”
Nevertheless, in terms of domestic abuse, the CPS data also reveals a reduction of more than 15,000 cases referred to the CPS by the police and a drop in almost 9,000 cases charged compared to this point a year ago, EVAW pointed out.
Ms Hitchen said: “These latest figures on the justice system’s treatment of rape and domestic abuse are hugely concerning. The government and CPS have long committed to transforming our broken justice system, but the pace of change is stagnant.
She added “We are particularly concerned to once again see a downward trajectory in charging, prosecuting and convicting perpetrators of domestic abuse. This is completely unacceptable and we call for urgent and serious attention to reverse this.”
The upcoming Victims’ Law promises to improve how the criminal justice system treated survivors, she pointed out.
However, Ms Hitchen warned: “As long as our experiences of the police, prosecutors and court system are harmful and prevent justice, there will be no trust and confidence in the system, which means no accountability or consequences for perpetrators.
“Every survivor deserves justice and specialist support. It is a national scandal that more often than not, both are out of reach due to the failure of government to prioritise funding and reform. Today’s figures once again underscore the urgent need for radical action and accountability.”
A joint initiative launched in September of last year an entitled Operation Soteria aims to transform the way the CPS and police handle rape investigations and prosecutions, centring on the conduct of the suspect as opposed to the victim.