To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the number of rape victims who have not had their (a) right to anonymity and (b) rights under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, including enhanced rights for intimidated witnesses, upheld; for what reason those rights have not been upheld; and what steps he is taking to ensure that those rights are upheld and reinstated after they have been breached.
14 March 2022
Victims of rape do not have to apply for anonymity as it is an automatic lifetime protection from the point of report. Therefore, there is no requirement for the court to uphold their anonymity, and breach of this right is a criminal offence.
Victims of rape are eligible for enhanced support under the Victims’ Code. Such support includes being offered a referral to a specialist support service by the police, being contacted sooner after key decisions have been made and having access to special measures, such as being screened from the defendant or giving evidence during the trial from outside the courtroom. The Crown Prosecution Service will seek the victims’ views on special measures and make the application to the court, but ultimately it is at the court’s discretion. We have expanded the current pilot of Section 28, which provides the option to pre-record cross-examination in advance of a trial, for complainants of sexual and modern slavery offences from three to seven Crown Court centres and will extend for this cohort nationwide as soon as practicable.
The Ministry of Justice does not collect data on the special measures directions made by the courts. However, the second phase of the Common Platform, a digital case management system that helps users, such as HMCTS staff and the CPS, manage and share criminal case information more effectively, will allow us to collate this data when it is fully rolled out.
We recently consulted on a Victims’ Bill – which will build on the foundations provided by the Code to substantially improve victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system. We have already committed to placing the Code in statute to raise its profile and send a clear signal that the justice system must deliver for victims. The Bill will also make clearer and sharper lines of accountability if victims do not receive their rights from criminal justice agencies.
This Government is also publishing the first ever adult rape scorecard, which will bring together performance data from across the system in one place, allowing us to increase public transparency and hold agencies to account for delivery.