Raab Announces Three Special Rape Courts to Increase Conviction Rate
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the pilot scheme would be evaluated to see if the model could be applied elsewhere. He added that Operation Soteria, which mandates offices to focus on rape suspects' behaviour rather than their accusers' private lives, will be expanded from the current five police forces to 21.
Britain's justice secretary has given the go-ahead for three new specialised courts will be founded to try rape cases in a bid to increase the low conviction rate.
Dominic Raab said the pilot scheme of dedicated courtrooms will begin at the crown courts in Leeds, Newcastle and Snaresbrook in northeast London. The locations were chosen because those courts had a larger-than-average backlog of sexual offence cases waiting to be heard.
"Rape wrecks lives, leaving lasting physical and mental scars," Raab said.
Staff at the courts will be given special trauma training, and accusers will have independent advisers assigned to them throughout the prosecution process to support and represent them.
The move comes after statistic showed just 1.3 percent of the 67,125 sexual offences reported to police in 2021 had resulted in a conviction.
More than half the accusers in those cases withdrew charges after police investigations pried into their private lives, for fear of reliving traumatic experiences in court or because court delays — due to the COVID-19 pandemic — meant their case only came to trial two or three years later.
"As you try to put your life back together, you summon the courage to come forward to the police, only to find that your account is not believed. Worse still, you find yourself as the one who is subject to the most intensive and rigorous investigation," Raab said.
"Add in the backlog of Crown Court cases caused by the pandemic, and the ordeal of giving testimony under the glare of an open courtroom, and it is little wonder that too many victims drop their case before it reaches trial," he added.
11 June, 16:25 GMT
"This is the tragic and appalling reality for too many rape victims, and I’m determined to change it — supporting victims through their traumatic ordeal, and delivering the justice they deserve."
Raab said the pilot scheme would be evaluated to see if the model could be applied elsewhere. He added that Operation Soteria, which mandates offices to focus on rape suspects' behaviour rather than their accusers' private lives, will be expanded from the current five police forces to 21.