22nd June 2021
Rape review. The Government’s End to End Review of the Criminal Justice System Response began in 2019. The purpose was to look at evidence across the system, from reporting rape to the police through to court outcomes, to understand what was happening in cases of adult rape.
Although the number of reported cases has not really changed, the number of prosecuted cases sharply declined in 2016/2017. The research found that the reasons for the decline are complex and wide-ranging. They included the increase in personal data being requested, delays in investigations, difficult relationships between different parts of the system, a lack of specialist resources, and inconsistent victim support.
The volume of cases that police refer to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), those charged and going to court have declined. To reverse the trend, the government says its initial ambition is to:
A particular step the government says will be taken is to change the way the crime is investigated. The Review found that victims often felt under investigation themselves and that they did not feel believed. It was said that there are patterns of behaviour that are significant features of rape and that proper emphasis needs to be placed on a suspect’s offending history. Decisions cannot be made purely on a victim’s credibility; they require a well-rounded objective assessment of the evidence.
The police are to move to a default investigatory model, one that recognises the prevalence of serial offending in rape offences. This would involve an early robust assessment of suspect offending patterns and behaviour to ensure proper emphasis is placed on it in the investigation.
This action plan is designed to increase the volume of cases progressing through the system. In addition, the government wishes to achieve the following outcomes:
A timeframe has also been published setting out the progress expected at 6, 12, and 24-month intervals. To ensure accountability, the government says that it will publish an update detailing the progress made every six months. A “performance scorecard” will monitor progress against key metrics including timeliness, quality, and victim engagement in each part of the system and the plan implementation.
Whilst the government aims appear focused on the victim’s rights, all agencies have to ensure that there is a fair trial for the defendant. This is where we come in; we will protect and advance your rights at every stage of the investigation and proceedings, ensuring that you have the proper advice and information throughout.
We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly.
[Image credit: “Rape” by Valeri Pizhanski is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]