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Sweeping justice reforms to “increase number of rape cases reaching court”

Sweeping reforms will ensure more rape and sexual assault cases are heard in court, it has been announced.

The proposals follow concerns that thousands of alleged victims may be missing out on justice after prosecutions fell significantly in 2020.

Announcing the overhaul, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the Action Plan will include “clear actions for the police, prosecutors and courts” and roll out a “new approach to investigations” to increase the volumes of trials being heard.

This means returning volumes of cases to “at least 2016 levels” when a decline in prosecutions was first recorded.

The Action Plan also includes:

  • Publishing regular scorecards including metrics on timeliness, quality of cases and victim engagement to show how the whole criminal justice system is performing
  • Better data extraction technology – enabling up to 10,000 devices each year to be processed at the earliest stages of an investigation
  • Working with the mobile phone industry to support police efforts in providing ‘swap out’ phones for victims where it is not possible to return a phone within 24 hours
  • Launching new ‘Pathfinder Projects’ across four more police forces which allow external scrutiny of police decisions
  • Establishing a culture of more effective joint working between police and CPS
  • A review into ‘rape myths’
  • Pre-recorded cross-examination

Commenting on the reforms, Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said: “Too many victims of rape and sexual violence have been denied the justice they deserve as a result of systemic failings.

“We are deeply sorry for this and will not rest until real improvements are made – from transforming the support given to victims, to ensuring cases are investigated fully and prosecuted robustly.”

According to the latest statistics, 58,856 cases of rape were recorded by police forces in England and Wales in the year to March 2020. But just 2,102 cases resulted in prosecution, compared with 3,043 the previous year.

Research also reveals that one in two alleged victims will withdraw from an investigation.

Have you been accused of committing a crime? We help clients through all stages of the criminal justice process. For advice and representation, get in touch with our expert team today.

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