PMQs: Truth-checking the controversy over low rape prosecution ranges

PMQs: Fact-checking the debate over low rape prosecution levels

2021-06-23 22:51:46

By Actuality Test crew
BBC Information

picture copyrightUK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

The sharp fall in rape prosecutions in England and Wales dominated exchanges between Boris Johnson and the Labour chief Keir Starmer at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions.

The federal government printed its long-awaited overview into how rape is handled within the felony justice system final week, with the justice secretary apologising to victims.

In the present day, the prime minister and the Labour chief argued about rape prosecutions – we have checked out a few of their claims:

Starmer: ‘Rape prosecutions have halved since 2016…[and] 98.4% of reported rapes do not find yourself in a cost’

In 2015-16, there have been 4,643 rape prosecutions in England and Wales.

By 2019-20, they’d fallen to 2,102 – so it is right to say they’ve halved.

The overview units out “an ambition to extend the quantity of circumstances progressing by the system in order that extra circumstances get to court docket, and extra convictions are delivered, returning to 2016 ranges”.

Johnson: ‘We have elevated the numbers of individuals within the Crown Prosecution Service by at the very least 200’

The prime minister denied claims that funds cuts to the felony justice system had been accountable for the rape prosecution figures.

It is right that employees within the Felony Prosecution Service (CPS) – which conducts felony prosecutions – did enhance by almost 200 between 2019 and 2020 (from 5,552 to five,720).

However that rise would not come near replenishing the employees misplaced between 2010-11 and 2019-20 – numbers fell by 2,374 over that interval.

picture copyrightUK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
picture captionKeir Starmer in Parliament

Johnson: ‘We have been investing extra within the CPS – one other £85m’

In 2019, the federal government introduced an additional £85m funding for the CPS to assist it examine violent crime and cope with the “explosion in digital proof” – so this assertion is right.

However this comes off the again of great funds cuts to the Ministry of Justice (which incorporates the CPS).

Final week, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland was requested about whether or not cuts had been an element when it got here to the rape prosecution statistics.

He stated: “Like all components of public service, huge selections had been made within the final decade, due to the place that all of us confronted economically and that is, I feel, self-evidently the case.”

Starmer: ‘On the prime minister’s watch… court docket backlogs are at a report excessive’

The latest figures, for the tip of 2020, say there have been almost 57,000 excellent circumstances on the Crown Court docket – which offers with essentially the most severe circumstances, comparable to rape.

An excellent case is one that’s ongoing or ready to start out.

This determine of 57,000 was a report within the information offered by the Ministry of Justice, going again to 2014, so Mr Starmer’s assertion is right in terms of these courts.

The pandemic accounts for a part of the rise in figures – the determine has gone up by almost half in a single 12 months.

However they’ve been rising for the reason that begin of 2019, having been falling steadily for 4 years earlier than that.

Decrease degree courts have seen an enchancment since a report excessive – for excellent circumstances – through the first lockdown.

Johnson: ‘He [Starmer] acquired his occasion to vote towards harder sentences for severe sexual and violent offenders’

It is right that Labour voted towards the Police, Crime and Sentencing Invoice in March (which incorporates proposals to increase present limits on the early launch of rape and sure violent offenders).

The occasion stated the proposals on sentencing would “confuse the system and make the duty of members of the judiciary much more troublesome”. Nonetheless, it has stated it’s in favour of bringing in harsher sentencing for “offenders who’ve dedicated a particular sexual or violent offence”.

It has opposed different measures within the 300-page laws. Shadow Dwelling Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds criticised measures regarding protests. He stated the invoice “expands the circumstances that may be imposed on protests”, warning that it will “do nice harm to our democracy”.

Johnson: “One other factor we’re doing… is recruiting report numbers of law enforcement officials”

The latest figures for England and Wales present that between September 2019 and September 2020 there was a rise of seven,683 officers (full-time equal), which took the whole to 132,467.

The Dwelling Workplace stated that this 6.2% enhance was the most important September to September rise since comparable data started in 2003 – so the assertion is right.

However that also leaves the variety of officers beneath the extent from September 2010 when there have been 142,363 officers.

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