Labour wants to slash court waits for rape cases from 3 years to under 6 months

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Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed has vowed to tackle the
Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed has vowed to tackle the 'epidemic of violence' faced by women (Image: Phil Harris)

Court waiting times for rape cases should be cut from up to three years to under six months, Labour ’s Justice Secretary has said.

Steve Reed has vowed tackling the “epidemic of violence” faced by women is “the first thing” he wants to deal with if Labour win the next general election.

The MP for Croydon North has pledged to introduce specialist courts to deal with rape to clear the “shocking” backlog of cases.

He told GB news: “When you look at the stats, barely one in a hundred reported rapes ever results in a conviction. That’s effectively decriminalising rape in my opinion.

“And if you’re one of those few women, and it’s nearly always women, who is a rape survivor who gets to court, the average wait is three years.

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“I’d like to get them down to below a six-month wait rather than a three-year wait, and I want to cut the backlog in the court so that if you are a victim of an offence as violent and aggressive as rape, you have confidence that the criminal justice system is on your side.”

Labour wants to slash court waits for rape cases from 3 years to under 6 monthsThere were nearly 200 rapes reported to police every day in 2021 (Getty Images)

Mr Reed, who has been Justice Secretary since November 2021, also said he has “always felt very strongly that we have to tackle crime” after he was attacked at knife-point 20 years ago.

“So, I know how being a victim of crime can affect your perception of the world around you,” he said.

Mr Reed said the attackers, who were never caught, should have faced justice and added he’d “like there to be a much stronger emphasis on prevention of crime”.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has warned 300 women are raped every day yet only 1% of those cases - just three - will make it to court.

In a passionate speech slamming the Tories last month, the MP said the Government has “totally failed to have a proper system in place to recruit the detectives that we need and that is why you've then got victims not getting justice”.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Tackling violence against women is our top priority and rape convictions increased by 65 per cent to 69.1 per cent last year as a result of the significant work we have been doing.

"This Government has quadrupled victim support funding since 2010, is rolling out a new suspect-centred approach to police investigations, has launched a new 24/7 rape and sexual abuse helpline and introduced pre-recorded cross-examination to spare victims the trauma of a live courtroom. We will continue working tirelessly to deliver the support and justice that victims deserve.”

Sophie Huskisson

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