YEP campaign over West Yorkshire rape prosecution rates is raised in Parliament

A senior minister has claimed to be "extremely concerned" over low prosecution rates for rape in West Yorkshire.

By Susie Beever
Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 1:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 1:52 pm

Leeds MP Rachel Reeves raised the issue in the House of Commons on Tuesday, following a series of special reports run by the YEP last week.

West Yorkshire Police revealed in recent figures that just 4.4 per cent of rapes reported to the force between March 2017 and 2018 resulted in a charge, while one survivor told how her experience of reporting the crime stopped her from reporting the second time she was raped months later.

Labour MP for Leeds West Ms Reeves said: "In West Yorkshire the number of rapes reported increased by 25 per cent last year, but just 4.4 per cent of these cases result in someone being charged.

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Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves raised the issue of low prosecution rates for rape in the House of Commons

"The same is true across the country so what is the government doing to ensure that the criminal justice system is properly resourced and that it does not let down victims and add to the trauma that they have already experienced?"

Justice Minister Chris Philp MP said Ms Reeves was "quite right to raise this issue", which he described as "extremely serious" adding that "too few cases" were resulting in someone being charged.

He said: "I entirely agree with her. The government is taking action in this area."

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Only 4.4 per cent of rapes reported to West Yorkshire Police in recent figures resulted in someone being charged

An extra 20,000 police officers are being employed this year, while the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is receiving an £85m boost.

The Minister declared the government was also increasing expenditure on services for rape victims, with £5m spent on support centres.

One of those centres is being built in Leeds, with pictures revealed this week.

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:"We have heard this week how many cases fail to reach a charging stage due to a number of reasons, but we also know many do go through the criminal justice system and are successfully prosecuted and I want to reassure individuals who have been subjected to such abuse to have the confidence to come forward in such circumstances.

"You will be heard, you will be listened to and you will be supported.

"Work on a new specially built Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) is gathering pace and is due to open this Spring. Once completed, the SARC will house Children and Adult Services under the same roof at the heart of West Yorkshire within the Leeds District.

"These developments are aimed at increasing the number of victims and witnesses giving evidence wherever appropriate and achieving successful outcomes through the Criminal Justice System."