CPS: More than 200 prosecuted under revenge porn law

More than 200 people have been prosecuted under a revenge porn law introduced in April 2015, a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) report shows.

Figures for England and Wales reveal that rape, domestic abuse and sexual offences now account for almost a fifth of all cases, with prosecutions and convictions at record levels.

The CPS says improvements are due to extra resources and better training.

But charities say more needs to be done to encourage reporting of offences.

The CPS’s annual Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) report, which incorporates data on men and boys, has been conducted since 2007.

It became an offence to share private sexual photographs or films without the subject’s consent in England and Wales in April 2015.

What does the report show?

In the year 2015-16, ending in March:

  • Domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences accounted for nearly 19% of the CPS’s workload – an increase over the past six years from just under 9%
  • 206 people were prosecuted for disclosing private sexual images without consent or revenge porn
  • More than 100,000 people were prosecuted for domestic abuse, with a conviction rate of more than 75%
  • The number of prosecutions for rape were the highest ever recorded (4,643) and almost 58% (2,689) of those prosecuted were convicted
  • Child sexual abuse convictions increased by almost 17% to 4,643
  • The number of prosecutions for other sexual offences increased by nearly 23% to 11,995 – with 9,351 people being convicted
  • Nearly 70% (9,077) of stalking and harassment prosecutions were related to domestic abuse – an increase of about 10%
  • There were five prosecutions for controlling or coercive behaviour since a new law came into force in December 2015

Social media was also identified as a “growing trend” connected to such offences, and in cases of coercive control the CPS found defendants monitored phone messages and emails and used GPS tracking.

Director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said: “We are proud of the changes we have made to the way we prosecute these offences in 2015-16 and the impact these changes have had on improving convictions.”

She said she has doubled resources in specialist units handling rape and serious sexual offence cases, and that prosecutors received detailed training.

“Today a rape, domestic abuse, sexual offence or child abuse case is more likely to be prosecuted and convicted than ever before,” she added, but there was “still more to be done to ensure all victims receive the service they deserve.”


Analysis

By Danny Shaw, Home Affairs Correspondent

Although this category of offences, Violence against Women and Girls, includes crimes against men and boys, the vast majority of victims are female.

In years gone by, their allegations were often not taken seriously; violence in the home was treated as “just a domestic” with police reluctant to get involved; prosecutions weren’t considered or were abandoned too readily unless the case was clear-cut.

These figures, however, together with a series of new criminal offences, provide evidence of real change in the justice system, with the CPS more willing to prosecute than ever before.

The question is – do they and the police have sufficient staff to cope with the workload? At a time of scarce resources there’s a risk of burn-out.


Rachel Krys, from the End Violence Against Women, coalition welcomed the report, but said “the majority of women and girls subject to these crimes do not report them to the police, and the specialist services which support them are fighting for survival”.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive Women’s Aid, said the rise in prosecutions and convictions was because “survivors of domestic abuse are starting to have more confidence in the criminal justice system”.

“However, we know that much more work is still needed, particularly in understanding of the nature and impact of coercive control.”

‘Victim blaming’

Rebecca Hitchin, from Rape Crisis, explained why some sexual offence victims may still be reluctant to come forward.

“A really significant reason is the fear of not being believed, or because of victim blaming or the potential for backlash from family and peers,” she said.

“If the perpetrator is known to the victim they can be worried about the potential ramifications of reporting an offence as well.”

She added that although the police and CPS do a lot of good work there could still be improvements, and a lengthy and complicated prosecution process can put victims off seeking justice too.


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