Failure To Disclose Evidence Is Preventing Prosecution In Rape Cases

Over 900 cases of all different crimes have collapsed in the last year.

Failure To Disclose Evidence Is Preventing Prosecution In Rape Cases

by Georgia Aspinall |

After two rape trials fell through in less than a week in December last year, Scotland Yard announced it would review all of its current rape and sex abuse investigations. Now, it’s being reported that 916 criminal cases have led to dropped charges in the last year due to failure to disclose evidence.

The 70% increase over two years has sparked concern over police and prosecution failures. While the figures relate to all criminal cases, it’s specifically worrying for rape and sexual abuse cases, which are already notoriously hard to prosecute.

There has been a historic glaze over of this fact for decades, however after the ‘high-profile’ trial of Liam Allan in December 2017 collapsed, followed shortly by the trail of Isaac Itiary, Scotland Yard had to take notice. Finding that the same detective withheld crucial evidence on both trials, that in Liam Allan’s case would have supported the prosecutions defence, senior officers have launched a review of every live rape case being investigated.

The latest figures show just how negligent the police and prosecutors are being in the disclosure of evidence, with Angela Rafferty QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association telling the BBC that there is ‘a daily struggle in respect of disclosure, delays and all the other disastrous consequences of a system that is openly described by MPs as at breaking point’.

However, the Crown Prosecution Service maintain that the numbers represent just 0.15% of the total number of prosecutions, admitting that there were still ‘systemic disclosure issues’.

There are concerns that when it comes to sexual abuse trails, police are treating guilty verdicts as a target to reach and using bad judgement in an effort to ensure conviction. While this may be in an effort to improve the rates of rape cases convicted, which are still staggeringly low at 5.7%, this path is dangerous for the future of sexual abuse cases. The power of defence in rape cases already outweighs the prosecution, giving them more reason to imply negligence on part of the police will only lead to more mistrials and more abusers going free.

It is imperative that more is done to investigate how rape trials are conducted and ensure they are held to the highest standard. Laws around rape already put victims at a disadvantage, we don’t need shoddy police work further damaging their cases.

Another instance of women being failed? The contraceptive pill...

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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