Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services are demanding change from the Government following a warning of long delays and trials collapsing in sexual violence cases.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for West Midlands Police has warned that underfunding, “mismanagement and reckless neglect” of the justice system has left long delays in victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse getting justice.
There are currently nearly 58,000 outstanding crown court cases and more than 450,000 magistrates court cases in the system. Victims of rape and domestic violence are likely to be the hardest hit by the delays.
Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services Chief Executive, Caroline Voaden, commented:
“For too long the judicial system for victims of sexual violence has been woefully inadequate. Neglect and underfunding means that some victims and survivors have to wait years for justice.
“These delays are unacceptable, and women are often retraumatised by their experience of the judicial process. Most have no confidence in it at all, and those that do choose to report are entering into years of protracted legal processes that can be soul destroying. At the end of all of it, less than 6% of rape cases end up with a prosecution. It’s unacceptable.”
The current record lows in prosecution rates for rape, and the delay in the promised Government review into how rape is investigated, shows that sexual violence (which disproportionally effects women and girls) is not being taken seriously.
“We need urgent action from the Government to safeguard victims’ trust in the justice system.” said Voaden.
Simon Foster, the Labour commissioner for West Midlands police, was quoted as saying that rape, domestic abuse and violence against women cases are at the most risk of collapse when trials are subject to long delays.