Today (17 May 2021) it's been widely reported that more victims and survivors of rape will be able to pre-record their evidence, including cross-examination, for trial, as part of the Government review due to be published next month.
According to reports, the plans will also call on judges to bar the public from the courtroom more often and ensure police return mobile phones to victims within 24 hours.
The measures are being considered as part of an end-to-end review of rape and the criminal justice system, in response to chronically low charging, prosecution and conviction rates, and long-term campaigns by Rape Crisis England & Wales and others.
Katie Russell, national spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales said:
“These are all positive proposals that have potential to improve the unacceptably low levels of criminal justice victims and survivors of sexual abuse, rape and all sexual offences currently receive in England and Wales.
Through our frontline experience providing specialist support and advocacy to those who’ve been subjected to sexual violence and abuse, we know cross-examination in court can be severely re-traumatising for victims.
All sexual violence and abuse victims and survivors have been subjected to trauma and deserve trauma-informed and sensitive treatment. Pre-recording also allows evidence to be captured in a more timely way, and will hopefully reduce the negative impact on testimony of the long delays between reporting and cases reaching court.
But we must stress that no individual measures have the power on their own to address the significant, long-term failings of our criminal justice system on sexual violence and abuse.
No less than a holistic, multi-pronged and long-term approach will suffice to tackle the systemic issues underpinning these failures.
With our campaigning partners, we recently set out a number of detailed recommendations in our ‘Decriminalisation of Rape’ report, which we hope the Government has carefully considered and will include in its own review.”