WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
July 18 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Judges pledge to address ‘stain’ of delayed rape cases

Judges pledge to address ‘stain’ of delayed rape cases

Judges across England and Wales are set to prioritise the longest-delayed rape cases in attempt to cut court delays.

Under the plan, 181 trials waiting more than two years will go ahead by the end of July this year.

As of January 2024, 3,355 rape cases were awaiting trial in England and Wales. Defendants on bail had an average wait time of 358 days. The current delays are some of the worst on record, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, government cuts prior to this and barrister strikes over pay.

Co-ordinator of the Crown Courts, Lord Justice Edis said these trials would now be prioritised to end a “significant injustice” for victims and defendants.

The plan has emerged following the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) announcing that six out of ten barristers who conducted rape and sexual violence cases could walk away from the work because of poor pay and high stress.

Chair of the CBA, Tana Adkin said ‘We support initiatives like this that turn the spotlight on to the delays crisis blighting our criminal justice system.’

‘We simply do not have enough specialist counsel left to prosecute and defend these important cases. If the government is serious about prioritising rape cases, then it needs to urgently invest in the dedicated workforce who are specially trained in this work.’

Lord Justice Edis said, ‘Our system requires a substantial supply of skilled and experienced advocates in all our offence categories, but nowhere more than in rape and other serious sexual offences.’

‘They are a very valuable asset and it’s disappointing to read that survey, but I hope that that survey can be the start of efforts to put the situation right, because we can’t run the system without advocates.’

Barrister Joanna Hardy-Susskind stated that ‘Prioritising the oldest rape cases for trial before July is an excellent idea.’

She noted however, the difficulty that ‘the workforce of barristers trained to undertake this specialist work…has been depleted. Those who remain are often double booked or exhausted.’

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