On the day official figures are expected to show rape convictions have fallen to a record low, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has launched a new strategy to aimed at addressing the issue.
Katie Russell, national spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales, said:
“The criminal justice system in England and Wales has been failing victims and survivors of rape, sexual abuse and all forms of sexual violence for many years. Processes take far too long and in too many cases are re-traumatising. Only a minority of those impacted by these serious crimes even have confidence to report to the police, while only a tiny fraction of those that do ever receive any form of criminal justice. Meanwhile, the majority of rapists and other sexual offenders walk free.
While increasing numbers of victims and survivors have come forward to report in recent years, charging, prosecution and conviction rates have all alarmingly fallen to unacceptably low levels.
For many years, Rape Crisis England & Wales, our member Rape Crisis Centres, the victims and survivors we support and represent, and many partner organisations, have drawn attention to this failure and called for a complete overhaul of the system so those who’ve been subjected to sexual violence and abuse can have a hope of receiving the justice outcomes they need, want and deserve. Too often these efforts have been met with evasiveness and complacency.
Against this backdrop, the Crown Prosecution Service’s acknowledgement of the significant, long-lasting impacts of sexual offences, and that there is a justice gap that needs addressing, is a positive first step.
Alongside the Government’s ongoing review, we sincerely hope this will begin to make some of the difference so vitally and urgently needed.
We look forward to being meaningfully consulted and engaged in the delivery of this ‘blueprint’ and we hope that positive words translate into genuine improvements and much-needed cultural shift.
It is essential that all victims and survivors have access to the specialist support services they need, want and deserve, whether or not they choose to report to the police and at every stage of the process.
The new pre-trial therapy guidelines to be finalised later this year must not only make this clear but must ensure victims and survivors aren’t deterred or blocked from receiving this essential support.”