Criminal Justice Review: Response to Rape - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:28 pm on 26 May 2021.

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Photo of Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Justice) 1:28, 26 May 2021

My Lords, delaying the report to await the Court of Appeal judgment on CPS charging decisions is understandable, but one wonders why the report has taken two years. This is a dangerous crisis. Rape prosecutions were down from more than 5,000 in 2016-17 to fewer than 1,500 in 2019-20, in spite of an increase in reported rapes. In 2020, more than 52,000 rapes were reported but there were only 843 convictions. Potential rapists become ever more confident of impunity, and the lives of women and girls become ever more threatened.

Without second-guessing the report, may I press the Minister on two points? The first concerns ending the culture among young men and boys that condones harassment, even rape, and expresses the arrogantly sexist view that “she was asking for it”. We see it in schools, universities and colleges. Will he pledge substantial extra resources for citizenship education to turn this around and teach respect for women and girls?

The second point concerns that trauma of legal proceedings and probing the sexual history of rape victims. In his report from Northern Ireland, Sir John Gillen recommended that victims have legal representation to oppose the disclosure of their personal data, including mobile phone records, and to oppose them being cross- examined on their sexual history in cases where such issues arise. Will the Government agree to provide that?