Rape victims are waiting nearly three years for justice on average in the worst performing areas of England and Wales, according to an analysis of new Ministry of Justice data. For the first time, the government published local criminal justice ‘scorecards’ including information on the time taken for cases to be investigated by the police, for someone to be charged and for the case to be completed at court. Data is broken down by local forces, CPS area as well as Local Criminal Justice Boards.
According to the Daily Telegraph, rape victims in North Yorkshire face a potential wait of 1,046 days from reporting the offence to a verdict in crown court comprising 712 days for the police and prosecutors to conduct the investigation and bring a charge plus 335 days waiting for the case to be brought to court.
‘The total amounted to three times that of the best performing area, North Wales, where the delay in justice was 400 days, comprising 131 days for police and prosecutors to charge, and 269 days for the case to come to court,’ the paper reported.
Across England and Wales, just 1.1% of reported rapes led to a suspect being charged. Typically, it was taking 322 days from the date a rape was reported to the police until a decision was made; another 127 days for a police referral to a CPS decision to charge; and another 374 days from CPS charge to case completion in court. Two thirds of police investigations closed last year (63%) because the victim did not support further police action.
Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, criticised ‘this first iteration of scorecards’ saying they were ‘not the most user friendly’ and omitted equalities data ‘that would enable us to see who the criminal justice system is not serving, and the victims who are the most left behind’. Emily Hunt, a sexual assault survivor and Government’s adviser on victims, said ‘currently, it’s not the most beautiful data tool ever” but is a “great start” and allows “quite powerful access to data from across criminal justice agencies in one place’.
The MoJ also confirmed what are known as Section 28 measures to spare victims of rape and modern slavery the trauma of giving evidence by allowing for their cross-examination to be pre-recorded outside of the live trial. ‘The rollout of section 28 to more courts is a positive move that will help to reduce unnecessary stress and trauma for more victims, and I’m pleased to see this work gather momentum,’ commented Victims’ Commissioner for England & Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC.