Boris Johnson was defending the government’s record on rape convictions at prime minister’s questions today.
Mr Johnson said that, among other investments, “we have been investing in the Crown Prosecution Service – over £85 million”.
It’s true that in 2019, the government announced it would give an additional £85 million to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which prosecutes criminal cases in England and Wales.
That’s £85 million more than had been allocated in previous spending decisions, with the money split over two years.
The money was announced as a response to rising rates of violent crime in England and Wales, rather than low rape convictions.
The CPS said they welcomed the news and would spend the money on recruiting hundreds of new lawyers.
But organisations that represent criminal lawyers gave a lukewarm response at the time.
Chris Henley, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “The criminal justice system is severely underfunded, as a result of relentless cuts over the last ten years.”
Geoffrey Cox QC, who was Attorney General in 2019, accepted that the CPS had suffered a 30 per cent funding reduction when questioned by MPs.
We can see the scale of the cuts by looking at the budget allocations made by government to the CPS over the last decade. The figures are all set out in the service’s annual reports.
The CPS’ net funding, as voted by parliament for 2019/20, was £567 million, which includes a slice of the extra £85 million.
Ten years ago, in the financial year 2010/11, the CPS was given £643 million.
If we use the Bank of England’s inflation calculator to turn that sum that into today’s prices, there has been a real-terms cut of 33 per cent over a decade:
And that’s after some of the additional £85 million announced by the government in 2019 and mentioned by the prime minister today has already been dished out.