Criminal justice

Investment needed to ensure justice for rape victims

Improvements to rape victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system will only be achieved if sustained investment is forthcoming, the Law Society has warned.

The Law Society of England and Wales’ head of public law Ellie Cumbo gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee today (Wednesday, 1 December) as part of its inquiry into the investigation and prosecution of rape.*

Earlier this year the government published the Rape Review – a report looking into the treatment of rape victims as they try to navigate the justice system, which includes a series of recommendations.**

“The review focuses on dealing with the problems in the criminal justice process that add to the trauma of complainants in rape and sexual offences and has some very promising commitments to transparency and accountability,” said Ellie Cumbo, speaking after today’s hearing.

“However, improving the experience for rape complainants will only become a reality if recommendations about culture and procedure are matched with investment in resources.

“The criminal justice system is overstretched and an influx of extra cases is expected as thousands more police officers are recruited.

“Given the backlogs in the criminal courts and attrition rates in rape and sexual offence cases, significant and sustained investment across the entire criminal justice system is required to ensure the desired improvements in the investigation and prosecution of rape.

“We also particularly welcome the inquiry that the Law Commission will undertake into how evidence about complainants is used. Any changes to current practice will need to be based on a thorough consideration of the facts in order to balance improved experiences for complainants with fair trial rights, and hence ensure justice for all parties.”

Notes to editors

*Find out more about the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry

**Read more about the government’s Rape Review and our response

About the Law Society

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Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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