Many rape or sexual assault cases go unreported in the UK. For those that are brave enough to notify the police and seek justice, the journey can be a difficult but necessary one. The police are largely more focused and dedicated to helping rape victims through the investigation process but it is a statistical reality that many cases do not reach court.
So what rights do you have and what steps can you take if the police or Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decide not to take action against an offender despite credible evidence? Here we provide some information which may be useful.
Please read our helpful statutory rape claim guide for 2020 to seek advice about claiming compensation even if your case did not go to trial. A claim may still be possible.
The latest statistics provided by the government suggest that the numbers of rape cases being tried is actually falling despite a substantial increase in the number of reported cases. The number of reported cases leading to formal charges being made by the CPS is around 1.5%. Womens rights charities and support networks are quite rightly pressing for action. The media have also commented on what appears to be a sustained poor level of performance by the police when it comes to sexual assault cases.
If your rape or sexual assault case in your opinion has been handled badly by the police, here are some of the positive steps you can take to try and push your case further:
Firstly, be aware of the CPS guidelines when assessing whether to prosecute after a rape allegation. Read this document and understand the key criteria. Note the comments about the Full Code or Threshold Tests.
Secondly, you may be able to ask the investigating police branch to "review" the no further action (NFA) decision. You must make your request usually within 3 months (for most police forces) to the head of the investigating team. This process allows a senior person within that team to look at the available evidence once again. They may agree with the initial investigation outcome, or they may not.
Thirdly, if the CPS have made the decision to NFA and not the police investigation team, you can request a review through a similar process called The Victims' Right to Review Scheme. This link takes you to the main CPS review page for England & Wales. In Scotland you must approach the Procurator Fiscal to request a review using the application document here.
Finally, you may wish to complain formally about the police conduct into your case if you feel badly let down by an investigation. More information about your rights in this regard can be found here on the IPCC Statutory Guidance May 2015 link.