PANORAMA BEYOND ALL REASONABLE DOUBT BRITAINS RAPE CRISIS
Having recently watched the Panorama programme regarding Britain’s rape crisis, it’s certainly a very upsetting watch. I have been aware for some time that the process is in crisis and the Justice System is failings victims of Rape and Child Sexual Abuse. I feel I cannot just sit back anymore and let it happen and/or get even worse! It’s good that finally these appalling failings have now made the main stream media. From my experience a lot of the public are unaware at just how poor the Judicial System has become particularly from my experience the investigating of Rape and Child Sexual Abuse cases. Dame Vera Baird, the Victims Commissioner speaks openly on the documentary about how bad things really are, but is this lip service? How are these people supporting individual victims. I don’t believe they are. Will the CPS really change and learn from their mistakes? I don’t think so, not until they really start listening to victims and survivors not just saying it for a documentary. I have picked the main shocking parts out of the story and I have put the sources where I have got the information from.
The programme follows a few victims/survivors who have experienced the judicial system. But the case that was the closest to my heart was the case of two sisters, one of who disclosed Child Sexual Abuse when she was 11yrs old. Alex disclosed she had been raped by her father, when she found out her parents were splitting up. She was worried that her father may meet a new partner with children. She was 11 yrs old when she disclosed. The police force investigating was Derbyshire police and the detectives were DC Ryan Finnigan and DC Brett Turner. The abuse started in 2005 and lasted about 6 yrs.
Derbyshire police get approx 1300 reports of rape a year a large proprtion are historical. Last year police forces in England and Wales recieved more than 63,000 reports of rape.
Alex and Cheyenne’s case had been investigated before. Cheyenne was interviewed for the first time in 2011 when she disclosed to her school teacher that her dad had raped her. Alex was also interviewed but denied the rape claiming her sister had made it all up. The father denied it and the CPS claimed there was no forensic evidence so decided not to charge. The case went to Family Court and the children were removed from their parents. When Alex was older she admitted that she had indeed been raped and the CPS claimed her denial as a child ‘caused problems.’
Derbyshire police’ Brett Turner stated this was undermining evidence. CPS asked Derbyshire police to re-interview Alex, asking them to clarify the reason why she claimed not to have been raped, when at 11yrs old she gave her initial interview.
Alex said in her second interview when she was approx 20yrs old, that she “did not want it to stop.” She thought that she was “Making her dad happy and that she wanted it to continue, as she thought this was a normal relationship between daughter and father and something that happened when your father loved you.” She thought it was normal and didn’t think that it was not normal. Nobody told her that it wasn’t. Even after this perfectly reasonable explanation and an explanation that is common among victims of CSA, the CPS claimed they could not get a conviction. They never seeked advice from a psychiatrist.
The CPS letter to Alex said:
‘A significant weakness is that when your sister alleged abuse in 2011 you denied that you had been abused yourself and indeed said that your sister was lying. Whilst I appreciate that you have given an explanation for this, my concern is that even with that explanation, we will not be able to make a jury sure of the high standard necessary to secure a conviction of which account is the correct one. Other inconsistencies in the case and earlier opportunities for disclosure are also considered.
I can confirm that my decision has been reviewed by the senior District Crown Prosecutor in charge of the Rape and Serious Sexual Offending Team and he has agreed that there is no realistic prospect of conviction.’
The trial was at Nottingham Crown Court. Even though CPS refused to charge their father twice, he was found guilty in 2015 and was sentenced to 40yrs in prison. The process from disclosure to conviction took 4 yrs and a fight against the CPS for justice. The Head of RASSO in the CPS was totally wrong, these are the ‘experts’ that we depend on to convict abusers. You cannot take a private prosecution out in place of the CPS. Your life is in their hands. Even if after their decision not to charge, you took out a private prosecution (If you could afford it) they can intervene and stop it at any time.
From 2015 the number of rape charges made by the CPS fell despite the number of cases been reported increasing.
“ In the last 5yrs the CPS took a decision to prosecute fewer rape cases in order to increase their conviction rate, What seems to happen now is prosecutors try to second guess whether a jury would like this case has she had a drink? Was she flirting? How long after the event did she report? Anything like that means a conviction is less likely. So jurors aren’t getting the chance to decide for themselves. So we now prosecute about a third of the people we did. If the CPS doesn’t change their approach. The police can’t get past them.” Dame Vera Baird Victims Commissioner
The CPS said that they don’t talk about individual cases but say they don’t always get it right. Charlotte Caulton-Scott from the CPS said:
“I think if any organisation sat and said we never get it wrong that would be ridiculous. That’s why we have an appeals process in place you know we are all growing and developing and learning all the time and actually, that is going to make us better as an organisation because the more that we are listening to survivors and taking on board that feedback and putting it into our a guidance and our training, actually the better that we are going to get.”
But are they listening? I don’t believe they are.
The government has admitted it is failing victiims of rape, in 2021 the government released a comprehensive review promising to improve the way victims are supported through the justice system and increase rape prosecutions.
Dame Vera Baird said:
“It was absolutely right that miinsters apologised for letting rape complainants down I don’t think it went far enough because they needed to take stronger action in particular to swap the CPS back onto a challenging way of being not a capitulating why of being but some good things have come out of it.”
Just 1% of reported rapes result in a conviction source: CPS 2022
There is a lot of work to do to secure confidence and secure convictions and to send out the signal that rape won’t be tolerated
Just 14% of rape survivors believe they will receive justice by reporting to the police Source: Victims Commissioner Survey, 2020
In 2015 police in England and Wales submitted 28% of reported rapes cases to the CPS last year they submitted just 6% Source: Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary Crown Prosecution Service 2021.
“The CPS have this cycle of caution, coming back from prosecuting and of course this knocks on to the police that say well theses kind of cases won’t get past the CPS, costs a lot of time and effort to investigate them we won’t do do so, their second guessing what the CPS will do.” Dame Vera Baird
On average it takes nearly three years for a reported rape to get to trial 52% longer than 5 years ago. Source Ministry of Justice
So when you hear that someone has been arrested for Rape or CSA and they were not charged or were charged but not prosecuted. Do we really know if that’s the truth? With a 1% charge rate and abusers known to be extremely cunning and manipulative I definitely know I know the answer!