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Rising number of rape trials delayed as courts struggle to clear Covid backlog

A VERY WEAK number of rape trials are being delayed as courts struggle to address a backlog caused by the pandemic, shocking figures show.

Victims often face the added trauma of being told their case was postponed with just hours notice.

Victims often face the added trauma of being told their case has been postponed

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Victims often face the added trauma of being told their case has been postponedCredit: Alamy

Alarming new statistics reveal the number of Crown Court The number of rape cases dropped in one day has nearly quadrupled in the past three years.

There was also a three-fold increase in cases delayed more than once – in 2019 alone, 11 cases were delayed at least three times.

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Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed said: “Rape survivors already suffer the trauma of having to wait up to three years before they have their day in court – now they are shamefully seeing more and more of it snatched from them in a day will.

“Labour will put safety at the heart of its deal with the British people: we will expedite cases of rape and serious sexual assault and simplify the process so that survivors are fair.”

The delays are so great that the typical time between a rape incident and the conclusion of the criminal case is 1,000 days.

In one case, a suspected rape victim endured 21 court delays, often with only 24 hours’ notice, while another was the last to know the trial had been adjourned.

Lawyers told MPs in December that rape victims are “lucky” if their case goes to court within four years of filing a complaint.

They also claimed that a lack of resources and funding could be the main reasons low rape prosecution rates.

Jayne Butler of the Rape Crisis charity said: “Rape victims and survivors are already experiencing the ill effects of lengthy court delays as they have to wait many years for their cases to reach court.

“Setting up a court case is nerve-wracking, and victims and survivors will prepare for it for a long time. Having her trial postponed with a day’s notice is not just an inconvenience, it’s a devastating blow.

“Besides the practical issues like taking time off work or rearranging childcare, there are the emotional implications of prolonging what has been a very traumatic time.

“That is why we have asked the government to conduct short-term trials only for judges in certain areas. This will help clear the case backlog, reduce wait times and ultimately improve the experiences of rape victims and survivors.”

Teresa Parker of Women’s Aid said: “Rape cases that have been postponed at short notice will have a tremendous impact on the brave women desperately trying to access justice in a system that already works against them in many ways, with a shockingly low conviction rate.

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“We know how courageous it takes to contact the police about rape, which is often committed by someone you know and often by a current or former partner, and the criminal justice system is challenging enough for rape victims without that extra barrier. “

A Ministry of Justice The spokesman said: “Covid has resulted in many trials being postponed at the last minute because people became ill or were forced into isolation.”

Steve Reed said:

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Steve Reed said: “Labour will expedite cases of rape and aggravated sexual assault and simplify the process so that survivors are fair.”Credit: PA

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/18227343/rape-trials-delayed-courts-covid-backlog/ Rising number of rape trials delayed as courts struggle to clear Covid backlog

Bobby Allyn

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