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Violence against Women and Girls: Prosecution Rates

Volume 738: debated on Thursday 19 October 2023

4. What steps she is taking to increase prosecution rates for cases relating to violence against women and girls. (906613)

9. What steps she is taking to increase prosecution rates for cases relating to violence against women and girls. (906620)

We are committed to tackling violence against women and girls, and have introduced new specific offences to target those crimes. We are steadily increasing the number of rape prosecutions. We are working on new ways to recognise the relationship between rape, domestic abuse and stalking. Close working across the system is the key to effective prosecution.

At Labour’s recent conference in Liverpool, my right hon. Friend the shadow Attorney General highlighted the shocking statistic that it is 200 times more likely for a woman to be a victim of stalking in this country than it is for her stalker to go to jail. Does the Attorney General agree that it is time that we started treating stalking with the seriousness that it deserves, including giving victims of online stalking a right to know the identity of their stalker?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that important issue, and I reassure him that the Government are absolutely committed to helping stalking victims to bring their cases to prosecution. The Lord Chancellor has made that something of a mission during his time in the House; I remember my many years with him on the Justice Committee when he talked of little else. We are working in the CPS on new ways of ensuring that the complicated relationship between rape, domestic abuse and stalking is properly considered across the system.

Prosecution rates for violence against women and girls remain low, and that simply is not good enough. Next month, we will mark White Ribbon Day, when men show their commitment to ending violence against women and girls. What discussions has the Attorney General had with colleagues across Government about White Ribbon Day, and what more can be done to increase prosecution rates and eradicate violence against women and girls once and for all?

A great deal of work is going on across Government to tackle violence against women and girls, and I am pleased to tell the hon. Lady that a great deal of really good work is happening in her area in Wales. When I visited the Cardiff office earlier this summer we had some very productive discussions about the implementation of the new CPS charging model. I encourage her to meet Jenny Hopkins, who is the chief Crown prosecutor for her specific area, to hear more about how that hard work has brought some really positive results.

Just before the recess, the then Director of Public Prosecutions gave evidence to the Justice Committee and highlighted the specific areas of work being done to improve the victim experience in relation to rape and serious sexual offences. While there is more to do, would the Attorney General accept that there has been real progress from the position even, say, 10 years ago? What is the latest position in relation to the key targets that were set from the end-to-end rape review?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question, and for reminding me that I should pay tribute to the outgoing DPP, Max Hill, for his five years of excellent work on our behalf prosecuting crime. I am sure that all of us across the House would like to wish him well in the next stage of his career.

On my hon. Friend’s specific question, the rape review set challenging targets. We have worked very hard across Government—the Home Office, AGs and the Ministry of Justice—on three of those targets in particular, and we are exceeding them considerably. We are in a much better place. Many more cases of rape are being prosecuted and rapists are being convicted. We need to continue to build on that progress—we will not rest on our laurels—but there has been real improvement. If anybody is a victim of rape, I encourage them to come forward. We will support them, and we will prosecute.