Today (20 November) the Conservative Party have pledged to commit £15 million next year to the crisis in rape prosecutions and support in order to”cut delays, speed up charging decisions, and keep more victims engaged with the process until trial”, with the funds set out for the police, CPS and support services.
Sarah Green, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition says:
“The Conservatives’ rape funding pledge today, in response to women raising the issue as a matter of urgency, is welcome. There is a crisis both in prosecuting rape and in ensuring rape survivors can get counselling support. The £15m is pledged toward both police investigations and support services, and recognises the need in both areas.
“It is critical that the money for police and prosecution service is not swallowed up by setting unhelpful targets on cases to speed them along, or by scrolling through reams of digital evidence without consideration of whether that evidence is necessary.
“In fact, as well as more funding, it is essential that police and prosecution leaders are required to root out the misconceptions and prejudice in the system which is what also leads to cases being dropped. The next Government must see the ongoing Rape Review through to conclusion, and be brave about considering radical reform to the way we investigate and prosecute rape.
“It’s also really important that the Rape Support Fund increase goes significantly towards the women’s specialist support services in our local communities, including Rape Crisis, which are run by and for survivors who understand trauma and can provide the tailored help that’s needed.
“While today’s announcement is significant, the fact is that rape is an extremely common crime and we are nowhere near either the levels of support needed or the leadership required on challenging attitudes towards, and excuses for, rape.
“The system at present is not fit for purpose and we have the effective decriminalisation of rape. In addition, many thousands of survivors of sexual assault in childhood and as adults never get the support which can really make a difference and which should be there as a right. All the political parties should address and set out clearly what they will do to make this a priority from day one.
“We also welcome the announcement that the Conservatives, if re-elected, will bring the Domestic Abuse Bill back. We hope to hear from all the parties about their intentions for the Bill, for the Violence Against Women & Girls Strategy, and on specific action to tackle all forms of abuse during their election campaigns.”