The government needs “much more ambition and focus” to deal with the “shocking collapse” of rape prosecutions, a group of MPs have said.
Police forces in England and Wales recorded the highest number of rapes and sexual offenses in a 12-month period of the year to September.
However, at the same time, the proportion of suspects brought to justice has fallen to a new high.
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This “unacceptably low” number will continue without “stronger reforms” to the criminal justice system, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee said, adding that the reforms “will require significant funding to have an impact”.
Committee chair Dame Diana Johnson said: “The collapse in the number of rape and sexual offenses prosecutions over the past five years is truly shocking and totally unacceptable.
“While it is clear that significant efforts are being made to reverse this decline across the criminal justice system, much more needs to be done.
“Thousands of victims are not getting the justice they deserve and this must stop.
“We need to see a lot more ambition and focus.
“From now on, there must be constant review and reform of every element of the system dealing with rape and sexual offences. There cannot be a single step backwards until prosecutions and convictions are more higher than they were even in 2016.”
Describing the government’s review of rape – an established plan to tackle the problem – as lacking “ambition”, the committee said there was “little confidence” that the target set to return to levels of prosecutions of 2016 by 2024 will be achieved.
He called on ministers to “go much further, much faster and change the way rape and sexual offenses are dealt with in the police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the courts to create a significant increase in volume of prosecutions and convictions”.
The committee made a number of recommendations and said it was essential that victims receive the support they need during the investigation and prosecution process and said the police force’s response “will need to be improve”.
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He also called on the CPS to improve its communication with victims.
A government spokesperson said: “While the committee recognizes the progress we have made, we believe there is still much more to be done.
“That’s why we’re hiring more sexual violence counsellors, deploying pre-recorded evidence faster, improving collaboration between police and prosecution and increasing funding for victim support services to a minimum of $440 million. pounds sterling over the next three years.
“The most recent data shows that there has been a slight increase in the number of rape charges and our reforms will continue this progress.”
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