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Rape prosecution rate in England and Wales falls to five-year low

Rape prosecutions in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest rate in more than five years, the Guardian can reveal.

Figures show just over a third of the 2,310 rape cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) between April and September last year resulted in charges being brought. The rate for the full year in 2013-14 was 62%.

The figures emerged six months after a Guardian investigation revealed the CPS in England and Wales has been quietly urged to take a more risk-averse approach in rape cases.

The furore over plummeting prosecution rates has prompted the Home Office to launch a comprehensive review of how rape cases are dealt with across the criminal justice system, as part of a package of measures to tackle violence against women and girls.

The Home Office said the review, launched on Wednesday, will specifically be tasked with investigating “why there have been reductions in volumes of police referrals, CPS charges, prosecutions and convictions for rape and serious sexual assault cases”.

The new figures reveal a growing proportion of cases have been “administratively finalised”, meaning suspects are not charged following a review of the case paperwork. Almost a quarter of all cases were administratively finalised in the first six months of 2018-19, compared with just 6% five years ago.

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