DPP asked to explain lack of prosecutions in 74 rape, sex assault cases

DPP now obliged to say why it does not bring charges under last year’s EU victims directive

Alleged rapes and sexual assaults are the most common offences for which victims seek explanations when the case is not brought to court.  File photograph: Getty Images

Alleged rapes and sexual assaults are the most common offences for which victims seek explanations when the case is not brought to court. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Alleged rapes and sexual assaults are the most common offences for which victims seek explanations when the case is not brought to court, figures show.

Under the EU victims directive, introduced last year, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is obliged to provide reasons for deciding not to bring charges.

Previously, those who reported crimes to gardaí were not told why charges were never brought, except in some fatal cases.

In the past six months, the DPP has received 241 formal requests relating to alleged crimes, about 10 every week.

Requests can only be made for crimes that allegedly occurred since the implementation of the directive on November 16th, 2015.

Allegations of sexual offences including rape accounted for the majority, with 74 requests in six months.

Non-fatal offences

Assaults in the non-fatal offences against the person category were the second most-sought-after cases for explanations, with 52 individual requests, while theft and fraud allegations attracted 43.

There were 29 approaches for reasons regarding “fatal offences” relating to a variety of incidents including potential murder, fatal road traffic crashes or workplace incidents.

There were 13 queries surrounding allegations of criminal damage, seven for road traffic incidents, five for public order and three for firearms and offensive weapons crimes.

There were 15 requests relating to non-specified or “other” allegations.

All initial complaints would have been the subject of investigation and files prepared by gardaí submitted to the DPP. Under the directive, the office has 28 days to respond to requests for non-prosecutorial decisions.

Of the 241 applications to date, 193 have been processed and 48 remain under consideration.

Suffered harm

Under the directive, victims are defined as those who have suffered physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss as the result of a crime, or are family members of somebody killed in a crime.

An explanation was given in 138 cases and refused in 55 for a variety of reasons, including that decisions not to prosecute were taken before the implementation of the directive, the onset of court proceedings precluded explanations, or in some cases because the applicant was not a “valid requester”.

Several requests were made for reviews of the DPP’s decision not to prosecute. There were 29 such cases regarding sexual offences and 22 for assaults. In total, 94 review requests were submitted.

Last July, a communications and victims liaison unit was established within the office of the DPP in anticipation of the requests.

The victims directive also allows for procedural rights for victims, such as being kept informed of the progress and procedure of trials through meetings with prosecution lawyers.