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Violent and Sexual Offences: Processing Times

Volume 728: debated on Tuesday 21 February 2023

17. What steps his Department is taking to improve processing times for cases involving violent and sexual offences. (903718)

Although I have faced the hon. Gentleman in Westminster Hall, I think this is the first opportunity that I have had to congratulate him from the Dispatch Box on his election to the House last year—[Interruption.] Wait and see.

It remains our priority to deliver swifter justice for victims. We are increasing court capacity by removing the limit on sitting days in the Crown court for the second financial year in a row, and we are recruiting up to 1,000 more judges across all jurisdictions in 2022-23. The Government took action to tackle the Criminal Bar Association strike, which added to those delays, and alongside all those measures we are implementing the £1.3 billion court reform programme, which aims to make our court processes more efficient.

Under this Government, just 1.5% of recorded rapes result in a charge. When charges are made, sentences are often woefully inadequate. That is why Labour has proposed minimum seven-year sentences for rapists. Why do the Government not support that?

As I highlighted in response to previous questions, reports to the police are up, referrals by the police to the CPS are up, and charges and Crown court receipts for such crimes are up. As I said to the hon. Member for Blaydon (Liz Twist), who is no longer in her place, I will take no lessons from the Labour party about being tough on sentencing. That party voted against measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 to give judges the power to increase sentences.