'Culture was wrong' in rape prosecutions, Justice Sec says amid falling convictions

20 June 2021, 13:05

By Kate Buck

The Justice Secretary has said the "culture was wrong" in rape prosecutions, as Labour demand he resign if he cannot reverse the plunging prosecution and conviction levels for rape within a year.

Robert Buckland told LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday that not only the culture was wrong in previous handlings of cases, but the increase of case numbers had a role to play.

"What I suggested was there were several factors at play here," he said.

"One, the culture was wrong, there was an absolute failure to understand and emphasise the importance of focusing on the person who committed the rape rather than the victim.

Read more: John Bercow joins Labour insisting 'this Government needs to be replaced'

Read more: Labour says minister must resign if he fails to reverse falling rape prosecutions

"I agree and I said back in 2010 we had to make decisions based on resources.

"But certainly since I've become Lord Chancellor we've seen funding for the Ministry of Justice."

Tom pointed out cuts to the legal system "must have had an impact", something which Mr Buckland admitted earlier this week following the publication of an official review.

But speaking on Swarbrick on Sunday today, Mr Buckland said an increase in cases came about after cuts were made.

"If you look at the overall volume, back in the early 2010s, the volume of cases was not that significant. You then see a rise in the middle of the decade.

"So I'm afraid there isn't an automatic correlation between saying cuts mean fewer cases and fewer prosecuted cases. That's not the case.

"In the review we talk about changing the culture. That for me is probably the most important aspect here if we are really going to change what we need."

His appearance comes as Labour demanded Buckland must resign as Justice Secretary if he cannot reverse the plunging prosecution and conviction levels for rape within a year.

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy accused Mr Buckland of shedding "crocodile tears" this week when he apologised for the downward trends in bringing sexual offenders to justice.

The latest CPS figures for 2019-20 show 1,439 suspects were convicted of rape or lesser offences in England and Wales last year - the lowest level since records began.

That figure was down from 1,925 the previous year, despite reports of adult rape to police almost doubling since 2015-16.

There are an estimated 128,000 victims of rape and attempted rape a year, but only 1.6% of reported cases results in a charge.

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