Politics

Feminine Labour MPs name on PM to scrap new rape sufferer steering | Rape and sexual assault


More than 100 feminine Labour MPs have written to Boris Johnson calling on him to scrap new steering on pre-trial remedy for rape victims, which they are saying will make it much less seemingly they’ll get the important remedy they want.

Led by the shadow lawyer common, Emily Thornberry, MPs together with Yvette Cooper, Angela Rayner and Jess Phillips argue that the brand new guidelines “will cause many survivors to avoid seeking therapy, and make it more likely that cases will collapse when the prolonged stress of waiting for trials becomes too much”.

The transfer would enable a defendant’s authorized crew to entry and use rape victims’ remedy notes in courtroom proceedings in the event that they thought it was “relevant”, somewhat than solely in instances the place it could undermine a case, they argue. The proposal was criticised by the sufferer’s commissioner for England and Wales Vera Baird, who stated it “made things worse” for rape victims.

Thornberry stated: “It’s hard enough at the moment for rape victims as it is, without them having to choose between getting help with their mental health and justice. That seems to us to be a grave problem.”

The majority of rape instances are closed when victims drop out of the legal justice system. In the yr to December 2021, 61% of police investigations had been closed as a result of the sufferer didn’t help additional motion. An absence of help for victims, together with confidence in pre-trial remedy, has been cited as one of many key causes.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson stated its new steering on pre-trial remedy, introduced out concurrently the lawyer common launched steering on disclosure designed to guard victims’ privateness, clarified that requests for knowledge have to be particular, including that notes can be shared with the defence provided that able to undermining the prosecution case.

But critics and campaigners argue they are often sought if deemed “relevant” and needs to be excluded from trials fully.

A yr after the federal government launched its landmark rape assessment into the collapse of rape instances, the justice secretary, Dominic Raab, introduced a pilot that would come with three specialist rape courts in Newcastle, Leeds and Snaresbrook in London opening in October.

Rape victims face lengthy delays in instances attending to trial, with the everyday wait between an offence of rape and the completion of the ensuing legal case exceeding 1,000 days in 2021 for the primary time.

Figures recommend that previously yr police have been sending extra instances to the CPS, and there was a small improve within the variety of instances that the prosecution service takes ahead.

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The authorities’s rape assessment progress replace states that rape convictions have elevated by 27% in contrast with 2019, earlier than the pandemic hit, whereas the rape conviction fee elevated to 70.7% in October to December final yr, up from 67.8% within the earlier quarter. Critics argue that an elevated conviction fee is a poor measure of success, as it will probably recommend that instances perceived as “difficult” are nonetheless not being taken ahead.

Andrea Simon, the director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, stated “not a great deal” had modified for rape survivors, whereas particular knowledge was nonetheless not being collected on black and minority ethnic girls.

“Despite any positive spin the government put on creeping prosecution rates, the reality is that in 2016-17 the volume of completed rape prosecutions was 5,190 and in 2020-21 this stood at just 1,557, so we are nowhere near on track to meet government targets in this area,” she stated.

Just 1.3% of 67,125 rape offences recorded by police in 2021 led to a prosecution, Home Office figures present. It means rape continues to have the bottom cost fee of all crimes. “We are in the most terrible place when such a tiny percentage of rapes reported to the police are being prosecuted,” stated Thornberry.

Raab stated the scenario was enhancing and that 1,000 sexual violence advisers had been being recruited and a helpline was being developed. He stated an additional yearly £6.6m within the spending assessment would consequence within the growth of the Operation Soteria pilot, a brand new police mannequin for catching rapists, extra help for victims, and higher knowledge assortment. “We are restless to go further,” he stated.

A spokesperson for the lawyer common’s workplace stated materials may solely be disclosed “if it might reasonably be considered capable of undermining the case for the prosecution or of assisting the case for the defence”. New necessities would “ensure that third-party material such as therapy notes and medical records are only sought by investigators in rare circumstances, where strictly necessary to ensure a fair trial”.



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