Criminal Justice Review: Response to Rape - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:18 pm on 26 May 2021.

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The following Answer to an Urgent Question was given in the House of Commons on Tuesday 25 May.

“I am grateful to the honourable Member for Pontypridd (Alex Davies-Jones) for her continued interest in the Government’s work in this area. Rape and sexual violence are devastating crimes that impact on victims for the rest of their life. When victims take the brave step of reporting the crime, they expose their deep personal trauma in the interests of justice. The criminal justice system needs to support those victims, believe them and ensure that their needs are met at the heart of the criminal investigation.

The Government have long recognised that the decline in the number of effective trials for rape and serious sexual offences in England and Wales is a cause of significant concern. As a result, we commissioned the end-to-end rape review in March 2019 to look at evidence across the system, from reporting to the police to outcomes in court, in order to understand what is happening in cases of adult rape and serious sexual offences being charged, prosecuted and convicted in England and Wales.

Our review represents a serious commitment to change by the Government and our partners. At its heart will be a set of actions that will drive system and culture change to ensure that the victims feel supported and able to stay engaged with their case. That, combined with updated and stronger case preparation methods, as well as increased communication between all those involved in the prosecution and new charge mechanisms, should lead to more cases reaching court and, we hope, defendants pleading guilty.

To ensure that that happens, I have been tasked by the Prime Minister to take personal leadership of the actions from the review, working with colleagues across Government to ensure accountability of operational partners for delivery. I will of course regularly update the House on our progress.

On the substantive question, I was keen to publish the rape review last year. However, following extensive feedback from the Victims’ Commissioner and the victim sector that we needed to take account of the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s The Decriminalisation of Rape report and the pending judicial review judgment, we took the decision to delay publication. We have used the time since that delay to carry out further research and engage with stakeholders in order to formulate an ambitious and wide-reaching action plan, which we will be publishing shortly after recess. When we publish the report, I will present it to Parliament and write to colleagues across the House to outline our approach. I look forward to working with the honourable Member and, indeed, all Members across the House to ensure that this action plan drives the substantial change we need to see.”