Allow complainants in sexual offences trials to choose to prosecute.

Allow complainants in sexual offences trials to choose to prosecute.

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Why this petition matters

Started by Christian Barrow

Victims of sexual crimes in the United Kingdom are being failed. Too often those who have suffered the most serious sexual crimes are denied justice, not by judges and juries, but by a prosecutorial system which focuses on conviction rates and cost-cutting. This is devastating confidence in the police and courts, particularly among women and other vulnerable groups. 

Many victims of sexual crimes go through deeply uncomfortable and difficult processes to try to build a case against their attacker, only to be informed that charges will be dropped and they will never get their day in court.

It is right that evidence is properly assessed before charging decisions are made, but the pressures on the Crown Prosecution Service are driven by targets that prioritise outcomes that benefit government departments and the treasury, and not those who have been wronged. 

The focus ought to be on securing justice. Justice means many things, but it means upholding the rule of law at its heart. That simply cannot happen when trust and faith in the police and prosecutorial bodies is lost. The decisions not to prosecute when there is a risk of not securing a conviction in these cases devastates victims of these crimes, undermines trust in our legal system, and dissuades others from reporting crimes. 

At a time when trust in law enforcement and the courts is falling, and particularly so among young women, it is time to empower those who have suffered serious sexual crimes by allowing them to choose to prosecute at the conclusion of an investigation into their allegations. 

Judges may still accept a submission of 'no case to answer' after the prosecution has finished making its case, and all of the legal safeguards afforded to defendants to ensure the safety of any conviction, and rights to appeal must remain. 

However, it is clear that too many viable cases never reach the courts, and too many victims of sexual violence are left without justice, closure or peace of mind that they were believed, or that the state did what it could to ensure justice was achieved. 

Empowering victims to choose to prosecute will reinstate justice at the core of decision making in the CPS; will help to rebuild trust in the police, prosecutorial services and courts, and will mean more victims of sexual offences get the justice and hopefully closure that they deserve. 

 

 

 

47 have signed. Let’s get to 50!