Criminal charges dropped against almost 3,000 people in Notts in two years

Criminal charges against almost 3,000 people in Notts were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Sevice (CPS) in two years.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 12:05 pm
Criminal charges dropped against almost 3,000 people in Notts in two years

A request under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that charges against 2,838 people in Nottinghamshire were dropped by the CPS from 2016 - 2018.

The main reasons for charges being dropped were victims failing to attend court (445 cases), defendants entering pleas to other matters (420 cases), and victims refusing to give evidence or retracts (404 cases)

In the same time period, 123 cases were also dropped due to an essential statement, exhibit or other evidence not being available.

Criminal charges dropped against almost 3,000 people in Notts in two years

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Once the police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the CPS, who then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

Janine Smith, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS East Midlands said: “These figures represent a proportion of cases against defendants that have not resulted in a conviction. These and acquittals after trial contribute to a conviction rate that is consistent with the national average.

"The CPS’s test is that there must be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of a conviction and a prosecution must be in the public interest. It is then the role of the jury or the bench to determine guilt beyond reasonable doubt or otherwise. Where cases no longer meet the evidential test, they should be discontinued.

“The CPS applies the same test, evidential and public interest, at the point of charge and throughout the life of the case to ensure that everything is being done to secure the right outcome. No two cases are the same. Where the evidence is particularly strong, the CPS will engage with the defence from an early stage to encourage defendants to plead guilty at the first opportunity. This means prosecutors can dedicate more time and attention to contested cases that need to be prepared for trial.

“There are many reasons why victims may not come to court or not continue to support a prosecution. The CPS treats every case on its merits, the needs of the people involved and what is right for the community as a whole.

"In some cases, if the victim will still not support a prosecution, despite the support offered, we will consider proceeding without them using other evidence, such as police body-worn video, CCTV evidence and statements from other witnesses.

"These prosecutions are sometimes referred to as ‘ evidence led’ or ‘ victimless ‘ in terms of who we call to give live evidence and how we present the case at trial.”

Diana Fawcett, chief officer at independent charity Victim Support, said that facing the court system can be an 'extremely difficult' experience for victims.

Ms Fawcett said: “We know from working with victims that the court process can be an extremely difficult experience for them.

“Many people already have a lot to consider in terms of taking time off work, finding childcare and making travel arrangements. Often victims have to travel quite far which can cause further emotional and financial strain.

“Trials are often delayed and adjourned which is difficult for victims as they can struggle to start rebuilding their lives and move beyond the crime before the trial is over.”

Rob Severn, Detective Chief Inspector for Public Protection, said: “Nottinghamshire Police works with Victim Care to ensure that victims are supported throughout the investigation process. Other support services are also available for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

“Nottinghamshire Police makes every effort to ensure its investigations are thorough so that there will be enough evidence for prosecutions to take place. It is up to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether this evidential threshold is met and cases can be withdrawn at any point where evidence is not thought to be sufficient.”

For victim support, please click here: call their free, confidential support line: 0808 1689111