I am delighted that the Government has announced a root and branch review into how the criminal justice system handles rape cases.
This is something I have been campaigning for. There is an ‘explosive cocktail’ of shockingly low charging and conviction rates at a time when record numbers of women – over 40,000 a year – are reporting rape.
The review is long overdue. We must not allow the clocks to be turned back to a situation where rape victims are frightened to speak out because they fear they will not get justice.
It is vital that the review thinks ‘outside the box’ and examines whether the jury system is the best way to deliver justice in rape cases because of the dominance of ‘rape myths’ in society, such as girls who drink or wear short skirts are ‘asking for it’.
This week I also released Freedom on Information figures which show that the number of rape cases charged by the Crown Prosecution Service has plummeted again and is getting worse each year. According to the statistics, there was a 24.6 per cent drop in charging rates from 61.9 per cent in 2013/2014 to 37.3 per cent by September 2018.
These new figures show once again that the justice system is not working for rape victims as fewer and fewer men accused of rape are being charged.
The obvious conclusion is that it appears that because juries are reluctant to find young men guilty of rape that the CPS are scared and reluctant to prosecute and the police are scared and reluctant to refer cases forward to the CPS.
The loser is the rape victim. They feel they have been denied access to justice.
See more in the Guardian here – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/06/prosecution-rate-in-england-and-wales-falls-to-five-year-low?fbclid=IwAR2v_Q4oyTtay5NeUe0WNd5ZjYNJA6DKl833xkeF5Rl9xEAiHrsreBkg0zs
Juries may need to be scrapped in rape trials because of the dominance of ‘rape myths’ in society and the shockingly low charging and conviction rates.
Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, will call in Parliament today for an urgent independent inquiry into the crisis engulfing the criminal justice system’s approach to rape cases.
This would include an examination into why the numbers of rapes charged by the Crown Prosecution Service has plummeted at the same time as reporting rates have soared and why there are such low conviction rates, especially for date and acquaintanceship rape.
Crucially Ms Coffey also wants a wide ranging inquiry to examine if juries are the best way to deliver justice in rape cases.
Greater Manchester has the fourth lowest conviction rate for rape amongst the twenty largest police forces – only Surrey, Cheshire and Northumbria have lower rates.