Why are there so few prosecutions for perverting the course of justice?
In 2012 the Department for Justice (DoJ) commissioned a report from Alison Levitt QC into False Allegations of Rape and Domestic Violence. commissioned by Sir Keir Starmer, the then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for England & Wales.
The following paragraphs are from section on ‘Evidential Issues’ p21. They explain how difficult it is for the police to secure evidence against someone suspected of perverting the course of justice. This evidence must be of sufficient quality to pass the criminal test of proof – to convict beyond all reasonable doubt. If you wanted to know why the police aren’t minded to take forwards your complaint that you’ve been framed by a complete pack of lies, see below.
26. It can be a significant challenge for the police and prosecution to obtain evidence that the original rape or domestic violence allegation was, in fact, false, given that the prosecution has to prove this to the criminal standard.
27. In cases where it was possible to prove this, the prosecution relied on:
- Evidence from other witnesses
- CCTV footage
- Proof that injuries were in fact self-inflicted
- Telephone evidence (including in one case apparently threatening texts which the suspect could be shown to have sent to herself)
- Proof that the suspect had manufactured evidence
28. There were some unexpected features. In more than one case, the person who had been accused of rape was able to produce mobile phone footage which clearly demonstrated that the sex had been consensual.
Reference: CPS report into charging decisions for suspects referred on suspicion of PCJ and WPT March 2013
So you won’t get any interest from the CPS or police unless you’ve got a) proof that you weren’t there b) you couldn’t have done it c) video evidence d) evidence that the complainant manufactured evidence against you – e.g. wrote the text messages you were supposed to have sent her.
But herein lies the conflict in the way in which these two crimes are dealt with in the UK. On the one hand, where there is no clear evidence in rape cases other than ‘she says this happened in the bedroom / he says something else’, the CPS often charge. They can’t decide whose word to believe and are content to leave it to a jury to sort it out.
On the other hand, there are victims of false allegations. And yet in these situations, when the police can’t decide whose word to believe, they say that they can only prosecute using the incredibly high bar of criminal evidence above. Why are they so reluctant to put two people’s word against each other in a jury trial for PCJ? Why do they insist on such a high standard of evidence in PCJ when they’re happy to pit the credibility of the witnesses against each other in rape allegations?
No wonder some people feel that if the evidence in the allegation is weighted towards it possibly being false, the jury in a rape trial should also be allowed to decide whether the person making the allegation is attempting to pervert the course of justice as well as whether the accused was a rapist. It is not a position that we would support as it would probably be too significant a deterrent to genuine victims of rape coming forwards. However it is suggestion that clearly has the balance of fairness to it.