We are steadily increasing the number of rape cases sent to the Crown court. We are preparing to launch a joint justice plan, which will transform how the police and the Crown Prosecution Service investigate and prosecute domestic abuse cases.
I will welcome my friend Andriy Kostin, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, who is not quite here yet because his plane has not arrived, in my office after questions. The relevance of that is that a team of UK experts is supporting his office to investigate and prosecute cases of conflict-related sexual violence in Ukraine.
“A new VAWG strategy for 2023-2025 is being developed for publication later this year.”
That year has come and gone, as has that Solicitor General, so can the Attorney General tell us the status of the strategy and its content, who the Government are consulting, and when it will be published?
The hon. Lady takes a long-term interest in these affairs, and she I have discussed them for many years. I reassure her that a great deal of work has been done. The work in the rape sphere, which I referenced earlier, is very commendable. After having a really difficult time in prosecuting rapes for many years, we are back up to 2016 levels, and indeed are exceeding them. The joint justice plan, which will build on the rape work in the domestic abuse sphere, will be ready very shortly—we are saying “in the spring”, but I think she will have to wait only a few weeks.
The Home Affairs Committee carried out an inquiry into the investigation and prosecution of rape. One of our very clear recommendations was that police forces need to have specialist units to investigate rape for cases to proceed to the CPS, and hopefully to court. We know that we get better decision making and communication with victims and the CPS if we have those specialist officers. Is the Attorney General as surprised as I am that not all police forces have those specialist units to deal with rape and sexual assaults?
The right hon. Lady, who does sterling work on the Home Affairs Committee, knows that the police are not directly under my supervision, but I am proud to talk about the very close co-operation between the police and CPS specialists in this field, which has really helped, together with some great granularity and pushing on the statistics to drive up rape prosecutions. She will be glad to know that in her area of Yorkshire and Humberside the number of suspects charged with rape has increased significantly over the last year.
My Newton Aycliffe constituent Zoey McGill suffered from appalling knife crime when her son Jack Woodley was killed in 2021. She is now suffering again, as one of the perpetrators is using social media from custody to glorify himself. Does the Attorney General agree that such actions should be prosecuted, and that the consequences should be publicised to ensure that they become a deterrent against others glorifying themselves from our prisons?
My hon. Friend highlights a horrific case. That is why it is so important that we crack down on mobile phone use, and indeed mobile phone existence, within prisons. The Government have put in £100 million to ensure that prisons have airport-style security, to ensure that it is much more difficult for phones to get in. Incidents such as he raises are very serious, and I commend him for doing so, as well as his constituent Zoey and The Northern Echo, which I understand has been campaigning on the issue.