This is the joint website of  Women Against Rape and Black Women's Rape Action Project. Both organisations are based on self-help and provide support, legal information and advocacy. We campaign for justice and protection for all women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual, domestic and/or racist violence.

WAR was founded in 1976. It has won changes in the law, such as making rape in marriage a crime, set legal precedents and achieved compensation for many women. BWRAP was founded in 1991. It focuses on getting justice for women of colour, bringing out the particular discrimination they face. It has prevented the deportation of many rape survivors. Both organisations are multiracial.

 

 

 

Overworked CPS rape units 'unable to investigate crimes properly'

In the Media

Excerpt from The Times, 20 Oct 2017 Hannah Summers, Alexi Mostrous

Although the number of rape convictions rose from 2,689 to 2,991 between 2015 and 2016, the overall conviction rate fell from 57.9 per cent to 57.6 per cent over the period. Last month three men walked free from court having been cleared of rape in separate cases, leading to questions about whether they should have been prosecuted.

Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, told the BBC last week that an acquittal was not an indication of failure. “These are very difficult offences to prosecute and a jury has to be certain beyond all reasonable doubt,” she told Radio 4’s Today. “We would not want to be in a position where we only take cases that are going to succeed because we would rightly be accused of being risk-averse.”

One senior crown court judge told The Times that the CPS’s Rasso units — specialist groups charged with investigating rapes and serious sexual assaults — often had too few resources to investigate. “They have got an awful lot of cases and they don’t have the number of lawyers, or the lawyers of sufficient calibre to be able to review them properly,” the judge said. “You often end up on the first day of the trial with complaints being made. The conviction rate for rape is still frustratingly low.”

A senior prosecutor who left the London Rasso unit in November 2015 had written to 30 colleagues to warn that conditions had become “unbearable”. “People are becoming physically ill, stressed, bursting into tears, having breakdowns,” his email from 2014 states. “There are people working 13-14 hours a day and people doing work during weekends unpaid.”

At least a dozen lawyers from across the CPS agreed. One wrote: “There has been an increase in our caseload from 60-70 in August 2013 to 155, literally overnight, in September.”

In a witness statement filed as part of an employment claim which was withdrawn, the senior prosecutor said CPS staff of all grades were “routinely overworked; bullied; mistreated and worked excessive hours to keep on top of work. There was an atmosphere of fear”.

A 2016 report into the Rasso units found that non-specialists often handled rape allegations and that victims sometimes had to wait for hundreds of days for a charging decision.

The CPS said that the number of Rasso specialist prosecutors had increased by 43 per cent since 2015, helping halve the number of rape cases taking more than a month to deal with. It said it had performed strongly in the face of “significant challenges”, such as historical sexual abuse cases, convicting 84 per cent of 588,021 cases prosecuted in 2016-17. There were 14 per cent more convictions for sexual offences in 2016-17 than in the previous year. 

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