Justice Secretary seeks to bring in video evidence for all rape victims

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Justice Secretary Dominic Raab plans to roll out video evidence nationwide in rape cases – PA

Video evidence for rape victims will be rolled out nationwide, Dominic Raab has pledged.

The Justice Secretary said allowing victims to give their evidence in advance via video will not only reduce the trauma of going before a court, but it could also boost the prosecution rate and encourage early guilty pleas by the accused.

More than 1,500 victims have so far been allowed to give pre-recorded evidence after the process was trialled at courts in Harrow, Isleworth, Wood Green, Durham, Liverpool, Leeds and Kingston upon Thames.

But Mr Raab said: “I actually think this is something we need to roll out nationally and I want to look at the right way to do that.

“The advantage that it has for the victim is that they have the opportunity to give their evidence without going through the additional trauma of the glare of the courtroom and that can secure more prosecutions.

“But it also can encourage early guilty pleas so it’s the right thing to do and it is also an effective way of driving up those prosecutions.”

Mr Raab will this week unveil scorecards for rape, which will track the progress of cases from when they are reported through to trial and identify the points where victims are most likely to drop out or face delays.

New targets set by ministers

They are designed to measure progress towards a new target set by ministers to return the volume of rape cases resulting in suspects being charged to 2016 levels.

Then, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) completed 4,643 prosecutions, but by 2020 that number fell to 1,490. Of cases reported to the police, 13 per cent resulted in a charge in 2016. Last year it was 3 per cent.

More than 40 per cent of rape victims withdraw their support for prosecutions, blaming delays, over-intrusive police investigations and the trauma of giving evidence in court.

Mr Raab is due to hold a roundtable with tech industry chiefs to investigate ways of getting “swifter read outs from mobile phones” to reduce the time victims are left without their device.

He is also seeking a wider rollout of Operation Soteria, where officers focus on the suspect’s patterns of behaviour before, during and after reported attacks rather than concentrating on testing the credibility of victims.

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