As I raised in Parliament, on the floor of the House, a decade of failure by the Conservative Government has weakened the foundations of the criminal justice system, leading to a near collapse in rape prosecutions and delays of years getting to trial.
The Crown Court backlog now exceeds 56,000 cases, and rape and serious sexual violence victims are being left to wait years for cases to get to trial. With over 98% of recorded rape cases not leading to prosecution, the lowest on record, more needs to be done to end sexual violence against women and girls.
Victims who bravely come forward often feel helpless to the system, unable to get real justice. For years the Tory Government has promised a victim’s law, which would protect the rights of victims and change this devastating pattern. However, this has yet to materialise! Action is needed now instead of yet more delays and consultation.
The Labour Party published a ten-point plan, which would put an end to the injustice that is already faced by many. Recommendations for this plan include fast-tracking rape and sexual assault cases through the Police, Crown Prosecution Service, and the courts, establishing a pre and post-trial survivor’s support package, including offering free and independent legal advice, better training for professionals around myths and stereotypes, and appointing a Minister for Survivors of Rape and Sexual Violence.
I hope these proposals will help to rebuild and secure our criminal justice system so that it works for everyone and whilst Government reform is essential, we all have a role to play – whether it’s calling out sexism or challenging inappropriate behavior.
At the centre of any action must be support for survivors. With the shocking statistic that 9 out of 10 victims of sexual violence do not come forward, time is of the essence. Victims of the most atrocious crimes cannot afford to have the Government waste any more time. They need decisive action and a proper plan implemented going forward.