Figures recently revealed by England's Victims Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, showed that only one in seven people who have experienced rape have faith in the criminal justice system.
It followed statistics earlier this summer showing that fewer than five per cent of rapes reported to police in the country even result in a prosecution – with Dame Vera saying the statistics meant the offence was being "effectively decriminalised".There were 17,364 sexual offences - including rape - reported to police forces in Yorkshire & the Humber in the year ending March 2020, but there were only 232 prosecutions for rape in the region in this period.
Solicitor General Michael Ellis assured MPs in the Commons yesterday (Thursday) that driving up rape prosecutions continued to be “a major focus” for the Government.
Mr Ellis' comments came as MPs on both sides of the Commons urged ministers to do more to ensure rape victims feel there is a reasonable prospect of their attacker receiving a conviction if they come forward.
Shadow solicitor general Ellie Reeves warned the Government it is “letting down victims of rape”.
Ms Reeves told the Commons: “The reality is that rape prosecutions are at their lowest level on record and, according to the Victims’ Commissioner, only one in seven rape victims have faith in the justice system.
“So it is clear this Government are letting down victims of rape on every front.
“I’ve heard about the consultations and the reviews, but what urgent action is the Government taking to reverse this trend and ensuring that victims have faith in the Criminal Justice System when they need it the most?”
Mr Ellis replied: “It is very important that victims do have faith and we ask everyone involved in the criminal justice system to support that system in giving victims faith.
“Because the reality is that dealing with this awful crime is a high priority for the Crown Prosecution Service and for this Government, and driving up rape prosecutions continues to be a major focus.
“The overall trend over the past quarter shows that the volume and the proportion of suspects charged is actually slowly increasing but I do accept that there is more work to do in this area.”
Conservative MP Laura Farris (Newbury) said: “I welcome the recent announcements from the CPS and the guidance that they published to improve rape prosecution rates, particularly in relation to modern dating apps and selfies, but the rate review that was published by the Victims’ Commissioner revealed a large number of women who still are reluctant to report rape in the first instance because of an enduring concern that they won’t be believed by the police when they do so.
“Can (Mr Ellis) confirm what steps he is taking to ensure that the support and the structures exist so that women who come forward can have confidence that there is a reasonable prospect of securing a conviction?”
Mr Ellis replied: “Well, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Government are determined to restore faith and build more faith in the criminal justice system and give victims of rape, this horrific offence, the confidence that everything will be done to bring offenders to justice.
“This is a priority, it is a priority for me and the Attorney General, for the Crown Prosecution Service and for this Government.”