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Rape: Victim Support Schemes

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Solicitor-General what steps the Government is taking to (a) increase rates of the prosecution of rape and (b) support victims of rape. (295046)

There has been significant progress in tackling rape, for example, reports of rape have more than doubled between 1997 and 2007. However, conviction rates remain low.

To address this, the Government have announced the immediate setting up of a review, led by Baroness Stern, to identify how the handling of rape complaints and conviction rates can be improved. As well as examining the response of the public authorities to reports of rape and exploring ways in which the attrition rate can be reduced, the review will also consider how to improve victim satisfaction. It will be assisted by the valuable work on victims' experience being led by Sara Payne, the Victims' Champion.

A separate Government initiative to improve support for victims will increase the number of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) to ensure that there is at least one in every police force area.

To drive up the quality of police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) performance in handling reports of rape, a team with members drawn from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the CPS is visiting police forces and CPS areas, sharing good practice and promoting increased effectiveness and a consistent approach.