Victims of rape and sexual assault are being let down by the criminal justice systems designed to support them, a new report published today has revealed.

The Government’s End-to-End Rape Review highlights the significant drop in number of rape cases reaching court since 2016 – dropping nationally from 13% to just 3%. It outlines a clear action plan for police, prosecutors and courts, to return the volume of cases being referred by the police, and prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), to at least 2016 levels.

Several issues have been identified by the report including:

  • strained relationships between different parts of the criminal justice system (CJS)
  • delays in investigations
  • a lack of specialist and consistent support for victims
  • an increase in invasive requests for victim’s personal data

In Wiltshire, rape outcomes for Wiltshire Police were at 3.7% in the 12 months up to April 2021 - an increase from 3.2% in the previous 12 months up to April 2020. 

Naji Darwish, OPCC Deputy Chief Executive and interim chair of Wiltshire’s Criminal Justice Board (WCJB), said although steps are being taken to improve outcomes in Wiltshire, including an independent review and a new victims’ strategy, the national report showed just how poor the current system is nationally.

He said: “Quite simply victims are being failed by the system designed to bring them justice.

“Performance when it comes to investigating and prosecuting rape and serious sexual offences is shocking - both in Wiltshire and across the country.

“It’s unsurprising that the public and victims may have low confidence levels in the police and criminal justice system (CJS) when reports like this highlight fundamental changes that are required when investigating and prosecuting these offences. That said, the responsibility for this does not sit with one agency alone and changes must be made across all parts of the CJS.

“There are thousands of talented people working hard to listen, support, investigate and get justice for victims and we must keep working tirelessly with everyone across the CJS to implement the changes required and address the challenges set out in this report.

“Wiltshire OPCC continues to commission specialist support for victims of rape and sexual offences. These services are available to all victims, regardless of whether they decide to make a police report or not.

“Police forces from Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire have been working with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to improve CJS outcomes and this has started to address the poor CJS outcomes for victims of sexual offences, but more fundamental change and transformation is needed.

"Alongside work by the Force and CPS to improve services, the three OPCCs have commissioned an independent review of Force and CPS services to support Chief Constables and prosecutors to deliver the improvements needed.

“This work will also inform a new WCJB victims’ strategy which will work with victims, support groups and professionals to ensure we address the issues raised in today’s report and that not only are victims of rape and sexual offences supported but have confidence that the CJS will do all it can to bring offenders to justice and work to prevent offences happening in the first place.”

Even if victims if do not want to make a police report, specialist support is available and they should contact Splitz if they live in Wiltshire, or Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service if they live in Swindon.