Rape victims ‘systematically failed’ by UK criminal justice system – report

Delays meant victims faced an average 706-day wait between reporting an offense and a trial

Rape survivors in England and Wales are being failed by the criminal justice system, leaving them facing an average wait of nearly two years for a trial, a new report found.

The damning findings were released on Friday by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI), and accuse the system of a lack of collaboration between authorities, as well as poor communication with accusers.

“Rape victims are continually and systematically failed by the criminal justice system,” the report stated, criticizing its “deep divisions between the police and prosecutors.”

The official report claimed that “the process is worse than the offence” for some victims, as they have to “wait years for a court date” and “experience multiple adjournments” in their quest for justice.

Part of the reason for the failures identified in the report was that authorities were still often listing rape cases as “floaters” or “backers,” which meant they could be moved and rescheduled, even at the last minute on the day of the trial.

One of the victims spoken-to had “21 court delays, most at 24-hours’ notice,” the report detailed, describing the situation as “almost unendurable.”

The investigation by HMICFRS and HMCPSI examined 556 files from the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and also spoke with rape survivors and victim support services.

The director of public prosecutions, Max Hill, accepted the report’s findings, stating that “strong collaboration between prosecutors and police is vital,” while also outlining the “extensive work” being undertaken to improve support services and communication.

Responding to the report, Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister and justice secretary, described it as a “sobering and considered analysis,” and pledged that the government will work “to give victims greater support and swifter justice.”

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