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Rape Allegations

Volume 545: debated on Tuesday 22 May 2012

2. If he will take steps to increase the public profile of the work of the Crown Prosecution Service on allegations of rape made by young women. (108451)

The CPS and the specialist rape and serious sexual offences teams in every CPS area take all allegations of rape against every age group very seriously, and as a matter of general principle are keen that their work should be given the highest possible public profile. That said, they and the police have to make a judgment in each case about whether and to what extent to give publicity to it pre-trial, because quite apart from the laws of contempt and those prohibiting the identification of victims, the victim is entitled to be spared as much as possible any additional trauma beyond that caused by the rape itself.

The conviction last month of Kabeer Hassan and another man for rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child calls into question the original CPS decision not to charge the men because the young woman was deemed not to be a credible witness. Does the Solicitor-General share my concern that the CPS’s original decision sends out a very dangerous message to other young victims of rape that they will not be believed?

If there is any good news to be had out of that terrible case, it is that the chief Crown prosecutor for the north-west, Mr. Nazir Afzal, revisited that decision, overturned it and ensured that the defendants were prosecuted, and prosecuted to conviction. I hope that the hon. Lady will be pleased by the result of that case.

Does the Solicitor-General agree that the increased number of rape crisis centres opened by the Government helped to increase the number of rape prosecutions?

Yes. It will be one of the many factors that have done so, and I hope that we will see them being better used and with greater efficiency in future.

The Solicitor-General will be aware that high profile cases often attract resource and, in particular, early involvement of the prosecution. Can he ensure that victims of rape get similar attention and profile?

Yes, I can. The specialist rape prosecuting teams and the specially trained police officers, as well as witness care units run by the CPS, are now working well together to ensure that rape victims receive the proper treatment they need.