Government is considering allowing victims of rape to pre-record their evidence in a bid to spare them the trauma of reliving their experiences in a courtroom trial.
This is one of the plans contained in a review report presented to parliament by the Justice Secretary. The document also touched on plans to shift focus from the accuser’s behaviour to that of the suspect.
It would also ensure that mobile phones taken away for evidence-gathering would be returned to their owners within 24 hours.
We can and should do better
In a foreword to the review, the Secretary of State for Justice, the Home Secretary and Attorney General said;
The vast majority of victims do not see the crime against them charged and reach a court - one in two victims withdraw from rape investigations. These are trends of which we are deeply ashamed... Victims of rape are being failed.
The three ministers also acknowledged the fact that rape victims—many of whom were raped by close relatives and people known to them—often disengage from the criminal justice process as a result of the trauma associated with the rather personal and intrusive nature of investigations.
They added that:
We are not prepared to accept that rape is just 'too difficult' a crime to prosecute. We can, and must, do better.
Rape convictions down to record low
According to the report, each year there are about 128,000 victims of rape and attempted rape. However, fewer than 20% of victims report the crime to the police.
Out of that number, just 1.6% of rapes result in someone being charged.
Rape victim and independent adviser to the review, Emily Hunt disputed the assumption that the low prosecution rate is as a result of people making false allegations.
The reality is, in almost all cases, if someone says they've been raped, they have not made it up which makes the current situation all the more shocking and unacceptable.