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New pilots to boost support for rape victims in court

Rape victims will receive more support at three crown courts under a new pilot scheme.

Leeds, Newcastle and Snaresbrook crown courts have been chosen as they are currently dealing with a higher-than-average number of sex offence cases.

The pilot has been launched by the government as it aims to drive up prosecutions and convictions.

All court staff, police and prosecutors working on cases will receive specialist trauma training, and expert at-court support, such as Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, will be available for victims.

Working closely with the police, CPS and judiciary, the government will use any learning from the pilots to complement ongoing efforts to tackle the backlog and increase the volume and speed of cases going through the system.

It follows a recommendation made by inspectors and the Justice Select Committee for specialist courts to be set up to deal with sexual violence cases.

Courtrooms will receive new video technology and advantage of the rapid rollout of pre-recorded cross-examination for victims of rape. This means victims are spared the stress  of giving evidence during a live trial and have already been introduced at 37 courts.

The initiative comes one year on since the government published its Rape Review Action Plan, with an update showing that considerable headway is being made in increasing convictions and improving support for victims.

Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said: “Rape convictions are up two thirds over the last year and cases are being completed five weeks quicker. But we are restless to go further, and these pilots will focus on improving support for victims, tackling the backlog and reducing delays.”

Over £460 million is being invested in victim support over the next three years, increasing the amount spent per year by 2025 by 92 per cent compared to 2020/21. It will fund more than 1,000 Independent Sexual and Domestic Violence Advisors – a 43 percent increase over the next three years, a new 24/7 helpline for rape victims as well as more local support services nationwide.

 

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