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Convicted Rapists and Protecting Victims

Volume 468: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2007

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

“Today the Government are issuing its response to the consultation “Convicting Rapists and Protecting Victims—Justice for Victims of Rape”.

The consultation document set out a range of proposals which aimed to improve the outcome of rape cases through further strengthening the existing legal framework and improving our care for victims and witnesses.

The consultation paper dealt with four issues—the consent element in the offence of rape, general expert evidence, hearsay evidence and special measures for witnesses.

In summary, our conclusions following the consultation are as follows: firstly, a judgment in the Court of Appeal has clarified the circumstances in which capacity to consent can be affected by intoxication, and there is accordingly no need for a further change to the law in this area. Guidance for criminal justice practitioners, including the judiciary, will help ensure that the law is properly understood and enforced. We will continue to look for ways in which information concerning the psychological reactions of rape victims can be presented to juries other than through evidence called by the prosecution. We have decided to legislate when Parliamentary time allows to make all complaints of rape by victims to friends, family and others automatically admissible as evidence at trial, irrespective of the time that may have passed since the alleged offence. Finally, on the subject of special measures, we have decided to change the law to make video recordings of rape victims automatically admissible as evidence-in-chief in criminal trials.

We believe this considered package of measures will make a valuable contribution to the successful prosecution of rape cases. A copy of the full consultation response will be available in the Libraries of both Houses and can be downloaded from www.homeoffice.gov.uk and www.cisonline.org .”