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Conviction rates 'really good news'

Published 25/06/2015

A record number of people in England and Wales are being convicted of violent crimes against women, with many victims being targeted over the internet.

There have been increases in the number of successful prosecutions for sexual offences, child sex abuse and domestic violence cases, and honour-based violence, while more people were charged with rape than ever before, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) figures for 2014-15.

The CPS said use of the internet and social media "has been identified as one of the main ways victims are being targeted and abused". Next year's statistics will include crimes reported under new revenge porn laws, where perpetrators who post sexual or explicit images of a victim without their consent and with the intention to cause distress can face prosecution.

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, said today's report was "really good news for the victims of these dreadful crimes" and added it was testament "to the hard work we (the CPS) have done recently to encourage victims to come forward, to work better with the police and ensure specially trained prosecutors bring the right cases to court".

In total, some 107,104 cases concerning violence against women and girls were prosecuted during the timeframe, a rise of 18.3% on the previous year.

The number of those convicted rose to its highest level at 78,773 - up 16.9% on the previous year, while the CPS said it was also investigating more historic allegations following the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.

But the data also revealed the rape conviction rate fell to 56.9% - despite its highest ever number of convictions. The majority of defendants were aged 25-59 (59%), while 56 were aged 10-13.

Campaigners welcomed the report and praised prosecutors, the police and victims for their work in securing more convictions than ever before.

Sarah Green, acting director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: "There are alarming rates of abuse via new technologies being reported.

"It's important that the law keeps up with this and that the police and prosecution service are resourced to respond to it."

Ann Olivarius, senior partner at London-based law firm McAllister Olivarius which has represented victims of internet-based crime such as revenge porn, said: "We see in our practice how the internet can be a powerful vehicle for hurting women.

"I'm glad prosecutors are paying more attention to this."

The CPS report showed there were the highest ever conviction volumes of domestic abuse (68,601), rape (2,581), sexual offences (7,591), honour-based violence (129) and child abuse (7,469), with more than 10,000 additional defendants convicted for domestic abuse.

There was a 15% rise in stalking and harassment prosecutions to over 12,000, and of these 1,103 prosecutions were commenced under the new stalking offences.

There was a rise in obscenity offences prosecuted from 4,764 to 5,782. The CPS said "the rise of the use of technology and the internet" meant more offences are being prosecuted under communications laws.

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