CBA Statement in Response to the Rape Review – 18.06.21

Statement from Chair of the Criminal Bar Association in Response to the Government‘s end-to-end Rape Review Report and Action Plan

James Mulholland QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said:

“Fundamental reviews of the way criminal allegations of rape offences are handled in the criminal justice system must focus on reversing the cataclysmic decline in charging rates for this serious crime category over the past five years, whilst at the same time maintaining a commitment to fairness in the entire evidential disclosure and trial process for complainant and suspect alike, whatever the category of offence, or there will be no just outcome for any court participant and once again the public will be the poorer.

Any skimping on any part of the criminal justice budgets from police, forensics and prosecution services right through to legal aid defence and court budgets allowing judges to preside over hearings, and the public will justifiably feel short changed and question whether this Government, whilst tough on cuts, is soft on crime.

If criminal cases are kept out of court because the criminal justice system has been deprived of the resources it needs to deal with them, that will rock public trust and risk people taking matters into their own hands. We will end up with a two-tier justice system.

There is an unacceptable rise in all criminal cases, but particularly rape allegations, that fall apart completely after criminal allegations are made to police, pre-charge, due in large part to end-to-end delays across the justice system from policing to court availability.

Charging rates overall for rape have come down to 1.6% in the year to end-December 2020, less than one tenth of the charging rate of 17.2% in 2015/16 once a rape allegation was made to police.

The State’s ability to properly investigate, make timely and just decisions on charging and then pursue any criminal prosecution through the courts is inevitably tied to the funding of both resources and appropriate skills at Police and CPS.”

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