Downing Street plans to introduce controversial rape prosecution targets for police and the CPS in an effort to bring more cases to trial.
The intervention is aimed at reversing the record decline in rape prosecutions by imposing targets on police and prosecutors, a report said.
In a highly unusual move, the prime minister’s crime and justice taskforce is planning to set targets for police to refer more high-quality rape cases to the Crown Prosecution Service and for the CPS to prosecute and bring more rape cases to trial.
It paves the way for a row with the CPS, which is likely to oppose the change for threatening its independence.
The service has in the past set its own targets for different crimes, but this is understood to be the first time it would be subject to a government-imposed target for rape prosecutions.
The cross-government crime and justice taskforce, led by Boris Johnson, is set to call for the service to prosecute a greater volume and proportion of rape cases year on year. It is expected to announce the targets later this year.
The move follows steep annual declines in the number of cases referred by police to the CPS and the number and proportion of rape cases prosecuted.
Less than two weeks ago, rape prosecutions were revealed to have fallen to their lowest level since records began, 2,102 prosecutions – a 59% decline since 2016-17 – and 1,439 convictions in England and Wales in 2019-20.
Meanwhile, reports of rape increased by a third to 55,130.
Referrals from police to the CPS have fallen 40% since 2016-17.
Fewer rape cases have been passed from police to prosecutors, but the fall in the number of rape cases prosecuted by the CPS has been even more marked.
The average time for a report of rape to be charged is 395 days, the longest of any crime type.
Amid growing anger over the trajectory of rape prosecutions, the government is carrying out an end-to-end review of the crime, which is expected to report this year.
The attorney general’s office, the CPS and the police did not respond directly to questions about proposed targets.
A government spokesperson said: “We are determined to restore faith in the justice system and give victims of rape the confidence that everything will be done to bring offenders to justice … We will continue to work with the police to look at ways to improve their role in the investigation and prosecution of rape, and ensure that their guidance and best practice is implemented in every police force area.”