Only 6% of all crimes charged, as rape prosecutions hit record low of 1.3%

The proportion of crimes prosecuted in England and Wales has plummeted to a record low of 6 per cent, with only 1.3 per cent of rapes recorded by police resulting in a charge.

New figures published by the Home Office on Thursday showed that in the year to September, figures fell for all types of offences.

Overall, 6 per cent of crimes were prosecuted, compared to 7.3 per cent the previous year.

The proportion of violent offences charged dropped from 7 per cent to 5.4 per cent year on year, robbery from 7.8 per cent to 6.9 per cent, theft from 5.2 per cent to 4.3 per cent and criminal damage from 5.1 per cent to 4.4 per cent.

Only 2.9 per cent of all sexual offences and 1.3 per cent of rapes resulted in a charge, compared to 3.6 per cent of sexual offences and 1.5 per cent of rapes in the year to September 2020.

Separate figures showed that police had recorded the highest ever number of rapes and sexual offences in the same period.

There were 63,136 rapes recorded in the year to September, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), up 1 per cent from the previous year.

The highest ever number of total sexual offences was also recorded –170,97 – a 12 per cent year-on-year increase.

The ONS said the latest figures may reflect a “number of factors”, including the “impact of high-profile incidents, media coverage and campaigns on people’s willingness to report incidents to the police, as well as a potential increase in the number of victims”, and it urged caution when interpreting the data.

The figures cover the months following the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in March.

The ONS added: “The overall trend is also currently difficult to disentangle from the impact of lockdowns. Offences recorded by the police dropped noticeably during the spring 2020 lockdown before rebounding to previous levels in the July to September 2020 quarter.

“The winter 2020 to 2021 lockdowns saw a smaller reduction in the number of sexual offences recorded by the police, but a greater level of increase in these offences in the subsequent quarters.”

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, called the figures shocking and “truly appalling”.

“The Conservative government is completely failing to tackle violence against women and girls,” she said.

“This is a truly damning Conservative record – thousands more criminals are being let off, thousands more victims are being let down.

“The government is still refusing to require specialist rape policing units, or make violence against women and girls a strategic police priority, or get police back into local neighbourhoods, or have a proper plan on online crime.”

The figures come amid record delays in the time taken for cases to be dealt with, after government cuts to court sitting days combined with the pandemic to cause a huge backlog.

The average time taken from the recording of a serious offence to the end of crown court proceedings is now 708 days.

The number of outstanding crown court cases stands at around 60,000, including 49,000 trials.

The Criminal Bar Association, which represents barristers, warned of a “perfect storm entirely of the government’s own making”.

“It is the victims of crime and defendants alike who pay the price, because of the severe shortages of judges and advocates, with it now being quite normal for complainants in serious criminal cases to be forced to wait four to five years before a trial is ever heard,” said chair Jo Sidhu QC.

“The government is still moving far too slowly in clearing a near record backlog of cases of its own creation, as a result of a court budget cut and closure campaign that pre-dated the pandemic.”

The Law Society said victims, witnesses and defendants are waiting too long to get the justice they deserve.

President Stephanie Boyce added: “The lengthy delays in trials coming to court mean a traumatised victim can be left waiting years to see their assailant locked up, while an innocent defendant can find their life in limbo while they wait to clear their name.

“Investment in the criminal justice system is needed now.”


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