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Labour accuses government of ‘decriminalising’ rape

LABOUR accused the Tories today of having allowed the continued “effective decriminalisation” of rape.

Shadow solicitor general Ellie Reeves told the Commons that only 2,100 prosecutions and 1,400 convictions resulted from 55,000 police reports of rape last year.

She told MPs: “The government announced its end-to-end rape review over two years ago and we are still waiting for it.”

Attorney General Michael Ellis said that it was “not the case” over 55,000 cases were referred to the police and that instead it was “only about 5,000.”

He added that prosecutions for reported rapes “have gone up,” with 65 per cent now resulting in a charge.

But he admitted that he “very much acknowledge[s] that more needs to be done” within the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over rape allegations.

Last year, Victims’ Commissioner for England & Wales Dame Vera Baird QC, who was appointed by the Tories, said that “in effect, what we are witnessing is the decriminalisation of rape” and that it was “enabling persistent predatory sex offenders to reoffend in the knowledge that they are highly unlikely to be held to account.”

End Violence Against Women criticised the Court of Appeal this week for having accepted the case made by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that there had been no change “in substance” to the policy that the CPS applies when it considers whether or not to prosecute a serious sexual offence.

The group said that there had been a “shocking and unprecedented collapse in the volume and percentage of rape allegations resulting in a prosecution” between 2016 and 2020.

Between 2009/10 and 2016/17, an average of 3,446 rape allegations were charged per year. By 2018/19, it had dropped to only 1,758 prosecutions being pursued by the CPS, out of “a total of 55,000” reports, the group said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had received criticism, even from Labour at the time, over his role as DPP from 2008 to 2013.

In a letter sent last year to the Camden New Journal, which covers his Holborn constituency, Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape accused him of failing to end the CPS policy of “prosecuting rape survivors who are disbelieved by the police.”

The group had raised the issue of how prosecution of disbelieved victims “skews police investigations and undermines women’s ability to report rape” in a meeting with Sir Keir, she wrote.

Ms Longstaff added: “To no avail — the policy remains. That police and CPS have got worse since Sir Keir left is not evidence that he was good.”

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