New data has demonstrated that the average rape case in the UK takes 1,000 days from the date of the offence to the case being concluded. According to the The Ministry of Justice, in the first nine months of 2021 the median delay between offence and case completion was 1,020 days (over two and a half years). This figure has risen by more than a quarter from the previous year. It is appalling that this has become the norm; rape survivors deserve to be heard and have their cases investigated sooner. Delaying the case only results in further trauma and with more rapes being reported in recent years, why isn’t this pressing issue taking priority? Let’s take a look at further recent statistics:
As of the end of September 2021, 576 rape cases had been waiting for more than a year to come to court.
Responding to this shocking statistic the Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry denounced that “a survivor of rape only has a 1 in 77 chance of seeing their rapist prosecuted.” She then continued “But it is astounding and frankly heartbreaking that – even in those rare cases – survivors are having to wait years for their trials to conclude.” With rape cases taking so long to appear in court, it is no wonder survivors refrain from taking action against their abusers.
Only 1.3% of rape cases now being prosecuted.
In the era of technology more people have access to mobile phones, laptops etc. Advances in technology means there is more evidence out there; so why are only 1.3% of rape cases being prosecuted? It could be could to do with cuts and targets; The Institute for Government estimated that the budget of the CPS was cut by 28% between 2009-10 and 2018-19 after adjusting for inflation. The amount of CPS staff has drastically decreased too. In 2010/11, there were 8,094 full-time equivalent CPS staff in post compared to only 5, 419 in 2020/21.
The Criminal Bar Association analysis showed there were over 6,400 outstanding sexual offence trials as of 30 September 2021, ensuring a 125% rise in three years.
This backlog of trials accumulated as a result of the pandemic, cuts to funding and fewer CPS staff only serves to reaffirm the dire situation in the UK. According to the BBC, The Home Affairs Committee heard from victims who said that if they had known how long their case would take, they would not have “brought the case to the police’s attention in the first place”. Survivors of rape are being failed by the government because their cases are not being considered a matter of priority – evidently in some cases the amount of time survivors are having to wait is deterring them from seeking justice.
In 2021 rape accounted for 37% of all sexual offences recorded by the police.
The number of rape offences in the year ending June 2021 was the highest ever recorded annual figure to date (61,158 offences) making it highest ever number record in England and Wales. However, of these 61,158 offences, only 1,557 led to prosecutions. Furthermore, this figure had fallen from 2,102 in the 12 months before.
According to the BBC, rape prosecutions in England and Wales have fallen by 70% over the last 4 years.
Along with these shocking statistics and a general consensus that a successful rape conviction is becoming more and more unlikely in the UK. Survivors of this heinous crime are either being put off from reporting the crime or withdrawing from their cases because it is taking too long and the agonizing wait only adds to the trauma.
If you have been subject to sexual violence, there are charities such as rapecrisis.org who are experienced in offering support and specialist information to those who seek it. If you are unsure whether to contact the police, speak with your local rape crisis centre for advice; the decision is always yours.