DPP rejects 70% of sex crime referrals
By Jennifer Hough
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
AT least 70% of suspects in sex offence cases are not being prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions, figures obtained by the Irish Examiner have revealed.
Statistics provided by the DPP also reveal that, since 2008, there have been just 24 convictions in cases relating to people aged under 18. They were secured from 531 files submitted to the office by gardaí.
So far this year, a high of 179 cases concerning under 18-year-olds, in which there were 201 suspects, were sent to the DPP.
An analysis of the figures from 2008 to October 2011 shows:
* In 2010, 1,254 files with 1,407 suspects were sent to the DPP. No prosecution was directed in 1,002 (70%) of those;
* In 2009, 1,043 files with 1,204 suspects were sent. No prosecution was taken against 883 (73%) suspects;
* In 2008, 962 files with 1,055 suspects were sent. No prosecution was directed in 784 (74%) cases.
To October 2011, gardaí sent 1,083 files concerning 1,213 suspects to the DPP. There was no prosecution taken in relation to 736 suspects. A further 270 are pending.
The figures reveal that conviction rates for serious sex offences in the higher courts are not going up — despite a steady rise in the number of files submitted to the DPP in recent years.
Since 2008, there have been 233 convictions in the Central Criminal Court and Circuit Court. In 443 cases over the same timeframe, “no final outcome” was recorded. There can be several reasons for this, for example, if the gardaí cannot locate the accused, if a case is still pending or if a case is awaiting a re-trial where the jury could not reach a verdict during an earlier trial.
The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland called on the DPP to give victims reasons for not prosecuting a case.
“Very many survivors of sexual violence who take the decision to report the crime to the guards will not have their case prosecuted,” said a network spokesperson.
“For survivors, this can be very difficult to understand and accept.
“We would like to see the DPP extend a pilot project to start giving people reasons for non-prosecution in relation to unlawful killing to include sexual offences.”
The figures show that, in 2010, just 10 convictions were secured in the Central Criminal Court, where 67 people were initially prosecuted. Of the 145 offences tried in the Circuit Court concerning 154 suspects, there were 32 convictions.
Also last year, of 203 suspects in 173 alleged crimes against under 18-year-olds, the DPP did not prosecute 163 (80%) of the suspects.
There was one conviction in the Central Criminal Court, and five in the Circuit Court. One case is still pending direction.
According to the DPP’s office, it receives a file in all detected cases of a sexual nature. Gardaí do not filter “unprosecutable” cases.
For this reason, the office receives a large number of files, some of which are seriously lacking in evidence.
This means they will only bother with cases which they can get a jury to prosecute and given the horrible attitudes to wards sex and women in this country, as over 1/3 of people think the victim is at fault. It means that you have to be a ‘good girl’ and have very little of a sexual history for to have them think it’s not your ‘fault’.
Given that even if the DPP takes your case it can take up to 118 weeks, that’s over two years before it sees the inside of a court room and you have to live with that hanging over you and that’s even harder if the attacker is someone you know which statically is likely.
The system is beyond deeply flawed and needs to change.