Hopes for boost in rape convictions as number of victims giving evidence by video before trial is set to soar
Il number of rape victims able to give evidence by video before a trial begins is set to be massively increased.
This spares victims the trauma of live cross-examination and may lead to more guilty pleas.
Victims have already been giving pre-trial video evidence in pilot schemes in seven locations.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab (nella foto) has signalled his support for a rollout of rules allowing pre-recorded video testimony before a trial begins
An announcement expected next week will set out an expansion of the schemes to the majority of crown courts in England and Wales.
Troubling figures released last month revealed the proportion of rape reports that led to prosecution fell to an all-time low of 1.4 per cent in the 12 months to June.
Laws allowing pre-recording of video evidence were brought in more than 20 years ago under the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, and are known as ‘Section 28’ measures.
But they have been little used until pilots began in 2019.
Mr Raab is also understood to support remarks by Max Hill QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who said earlier this week that members of the public should be excluded from courtrooms during rape trials more frequently, under Section 25 of the same Act.
Victims have been giving pre-trial video evidence in pilot schemes in seven locations and an announcement will set out an expansion of this to the majority of crown courts (file di foto)
A senior Ministry of Justice source said: ‘The DPP is completely right that we must make the process of giving evidence as easy as possible for victims.
‘The process should not add unnecessarily to the stress and trauma they have already experienced, and measures such as Section 25 and Section 28 can play a key role in this.
‘Victims would benefit from both of these being used more widely and that is something we would like to see.’
The video evidence allows victims to complete their part of the proceedings far ahead of the trial actually taking place.
Vittime’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird has backed the wider use of Section 28, arguing that it was essential to halt increasing numbers of rape victims ‘giving up on the justice system and walking away’.
Last month NOV new data showed the number of rapes reported to police in England and Wales soared 10 per cent year-on-year to record levels of more than 61,000 nel 12 months to June.
Ma, in a highly troubling development, the proportion of rape reports which led to a suspect being taken to court fell to an all-time low.
Appena 1.4 per cent of rapes reported to police led to a suspect being charged or summonsed.