The lord chancellor has revealed to MPS that in order to offer rape victims confidence in the current justice system to step forward, criminal justice scorecards will be issued by Christmas.
When thoroughly questioned regarding the route he intends to take to assist prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women and girls, Dominic Raab announced that he also hopes to discourage defence lawyers from the ‘widespread practice’ of advising the accused of choosing to plead guilty once they reach the courts.
In line with the government’s plans to return the amount of rape cases passed through courts to the levels seen back in 2016 by the close of this parliament, performance scorecards were first made public back in June.
Raab notified the House of Commons that his department would publish scorecards not only for general crime, but specifically for rape, to monitor performance at every stage in the system. ‘That will help to spur an increase in performance, which will give victims the confidence to come forward and get prosecutions to court,’ he stated.
‘It will be important when we publish the criminal justice scorecards for rape that we can see not just at a national level, but – in due course, following that – at a local level, which areas are getting it right and why those other places are not following best practice, and that we ensure we can correct the gaps.’
Section 28 pre-recorded cross-examinations for endangered victims and witnesses has been undergoing trials by the government.
When questioned when section 28 procedures will be prolonged nationally, Raab commented: ‘That is incredibly important not only for the victims of rape, but for other vulnerable victims. The evidence so far from the pilots and the trials needs to be gleaned and carefully evaluated, but I can tell my honourable friend that this is something that I want to look at very carefully not just because of the ability to secure a more effective prosecution, but to deter defence lawyers from perhaps not the universal practice, but certainly the widespread practice of encouraging the accused to wait until the moment in court before they take the decision on whether to plead guilty.’