The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is insufficiently resourced to handle rape cases in line with its own policies, according to a critical report from its watchdog.
The CPS’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offence (RASSO) units are supposed to ensure that victims’ complaints are dealt with by experienced lawyers in dedicated units.
But a report from its inspectorate found that despite commitment to improve the service to victims, there were ‘still significant problems’ evidenced by a ‘lack of consistency’ and ‘limited compliance with minimum standards’.
Inspectors found that rape allegations were dealt with by specialist lawyers in only 53 of the 85 (62%) cases reviewed, there was continuity of prosecutor in only 44 of the 72 relevant cases (61%), and files were dealt with by a RASSO unit in only 42 cases, with a further eight cases where this information was not known.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, dismissed the criticism as out-dated, stating that the RASSO units had recruited more lawyers since the research was carried out.
Meanwhile, figures released to Parliament revealed that the agency’s cost-cutting measures have resulted in it shelling out more than £83m in redundancy payments to 1,864 employees over the last five years – £1m a month.
In the five-year period around 30 staff have left every month, each taking a cheque worth about £50,000, while some have walked away with up to £150,000.
The CPS said it had made savings of over £300m over the last four years and that compensation payments were contractual and set by the Cabinet Office.