Rape: Trials

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 23 April 2024.

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Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Labour, Mitcham and Morden

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the number of rape trials that have been postponed within 24 hours' notice in each year since 2010.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The data held centrally by the Ministry of Justice on ineffective trials does not specifically identify those that have been postponed within 24 hours' notice. This information may be held on court records but to examine individual court records would be of disproportionate costs.

The Government is committed to improving the Criminal Justice System’s response to adult rape.  This includes the significant progress we have made in delivering our Rape Review Action Plan. Within this plan, we set ourselves stretching ambitions to return the volumes of police referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), CPS charges and Crown Court receipts for adult rape to 2016 levels. In practice, this means more than doubling the number of cases reaching court since the Rape Review was commissioned in 2019. We are pleased to say we have already exceeded these ambitions.

We also recognise that lengthy waiting times can be particularly difficult for victims of rape and other serious sexual offences who wish to see justice done and move on with their lives. The Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales has recently announced that all rape cases outstanding for more than two years will be listed by the end of July 2024, providing certainty to those victims that their cases will be prioritised and heard as soon as possible.

Alongside the SPJ’s efforts, we continue to make sure we do more than ever to improve timeliness at court. This includes delivering over 107,000 additional sitting days in Crown Courts; opening two permanent ‘super courtrooms’ in Manchester and Loughborough; increasing criminal legal aid spending by £141 million per year; investing over £220 million for essential modernisation and repair work of court buildings (up to March 2025); and investing further in judicial recruitment and retention.

We know that support services play a critical role in supporting victims including those engaging with the Criminal Justice System. This is why we are quadrupling funding for victims and witness support services by 2024/25, up from £41 million in 2009/10. The funding will allow us to increase the number of Independent Sexual and Domestic Violence Advisors to around 1,000 by 2025.

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