Rape Crisis and partners call for political attacks on CPS to stop

14 Apr 2014

Nigel Evans acquittal: Women’s groups say political attacks on Crown Prosecution Service must stop

Following the acquittal of Nigel Evans for sexual assault and rape (11th April 2014), women’s groups have expressed concern at calls from politicians and others for a review of CPS handling of sexual offences and for defendants in such cases to be granted anonymity.  They say that such calls are not based on fact or evidence, rather on the myth that allegations of sexual offences are often made up.

There is strong evidence to show that around 1 in 10 of people who experience rape do not report to the police and that, contrary to public perception, false allegations in rape cases are extremely low.   The Government has already considered, and rejected for lack of evidence, a proposal to change the law to give defendants in rape cases anonymity.

Organisations that support survivors have welcomed the increased efforts made by the CPS, in the wake of Savile, to improve prosecutions of such offences.  It must continue to prosecute cases where there is evidence to do so.

Professor Liz Kelly, Director of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, said

“The current debate sends an extremely negative message to survivors of sexual violence, and tells potential perpetrators that they will not face criminal sanction. At this time of ongoing high profile trials, political interference undermining work to improve prosecutions of sexual offences should desist.”

Lee Eggleston, Chair of Rape Crisis England & Wales, said:

“It is critical to ensure that all survivors of sexual violence have acces to specialist support, whether or not they report and regardless of how long ago their experiences took place.”