Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger
An alleged rape victim who says her case was dropped because she might not be a “credible witness” is determined nobody else loses their shot at justice.
Katherine Araniello recounted her ordeal to ITV News, one that was strong enough to launch a police investigation into an alleged assailant already known to officers.
But after being given “every rape myth” why her case would not be going to court, she is still reeling from the reasons the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) official gave her.
“He punched me really hard in my head, he was pulling my hair and then he tried to break my hand, then he raped me," she said.
“Every person involved in my investigation said this was a very strong case.
“In terms of the evidence, the police had the knife they had my clothing, which was shredded.
“I had been to a sexual assault referral centre with the police so they had the medical evidence. The bruising on my hands and thighs.”
But she says she was told she “wasn’t a credible witness” and that a “jury wouldn’t believe [her].”
Katherine’s is not an isolated case – hers is one of 20 rape complaints to be cited in the High Court on Tuesday.
In England and Wales, police recorded more than 55,000 rapes in the year up to March 2020.
But almost 99% of those cases resulted in no legal proceedings - no alleged attacker charged or summonsed to court.
That’s an alarming reversal in progress that has seen the number of prosecutions fall from more than 5,000 four years ago to a record low of just over 2,000 by March 2020 - a drop of nearly 60%.
On Tuesday, four of the country’s most senior judges will assess what’s behind that fall.
The argument put forward by the Centre for Women’s Justice is that the CPS has deliberately raised the bar to allow only the most rock solid cases to reach court.
This, they argue, increases the prosecutions success rates while removing from many victims any chance of justice at all.
The CPS denies it, insisting independent inspectors have found no evidence of a risk-averse approach.
In a statement, a CPS spokesperson said: “There has been no change of approach in how the CPS prosecutes rape.
"Our skilled prosecutors are experienced and highly trained to make sure criminals can be brought to justice.
"No matter how challenging the case, whenever our legal test is met, we always seek to charge.
“Independent inspectors have found no evidence of a risk averse approach and have reported a clear improvement in the quality of our legal decision making in rape cases.
"The principles of the merits-based approach are enshrined in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which guides every charging decision.
“Along with the police, we remain committed to making real, lasting improvements to how these horrific offences are handled, so every victim will feel able to come forward with confidence that their complaint will be fully investigated and, where the evidence supports, charged and prosecuted.”
But campaigners believe the collapse in convictions says otherwise.
Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales, said: "Rape is a serial offence.
"Until they are stopped they will keep on offending and although this won’t apply to every dropped case, it is quite obvious that if only 1.47% of people complaining of rape are getting a prosecution there are a lot of people out there being able to rape again.”
Her ambition on Tuesday is to reset the scales so that improved conviction rates will never mean diminishing anyone’s chance of justice.