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Victims of Crime

Volume 747: debated on Thursday 14 March 2024

The Crown Prosecution Service is transforming the way that it supports victims. The victim transformation programme will roll out this spring; under it, for example, every rape victim will receive an invitation to meet their prosecution team before their case goes to trial.

The tension resulting from the conflict in Israel and Gaza is causing an escalation in hate crimes. What progress is my hon. and learned Friend making alongside the CPS to ensure that the victims of these crimes—indeed, the victims of any hate crime—receive full support, and that the perpetrators are prosecuted?

My hon. Friend raises the absolutely key point, which is the support given to victims. The programmes that the CPS is rolling out include a programme for closer working between the police and the CPS, to support victims. He will be pleased to know that in the rolling year to September 2023, the CPS prosecuted 12,508 hate crime offences, with a charge rate of 86% and a conviction rate of 84%, and in 78% of those cases, the judge increased the offender’s sentence because they agreed that it was a hate crime.

Does the Minister agree that some of the most tragic cases are those in which a family member is murdered? In that context, could coroners courts and the coroner system be modernised? The time that some of my constituents have to wait because of coroners court delays is unacceptable.

The hon. Member raises a key point. There is nothing more tragic than the circumstances he outlines. I am happy to meet him to talk about any specific case concerns he has, but more broadly, I am acutely aware of the pressures, and I will look at whether there is anything I can do to ensure that the pressures and stresses on his constituents are alleviated.

I am absolutely certain that the Attorney General and the Solicitor General will have been as shocked as I was to read this week’s report by researchers at Warwick University on the recent handling of rape cases by the CPS. In far too many areas, the picture it paints is simply appalling: poor communication, poor quality control, poor decision-making, outdated attitudes, stereotypes and victim blaming, added to the constant problem of staff being overworked and under-resourced. The one positive is that it was the CPS that commissioned the report in the first place. It has not shied away from the findings, and researchers are clear that the roll-out of Operation Soteria will take things in the right direction. Do the Law Officers agree that we simply cannot leave things there? Will they undertake to come back to the House with an action plan based on the findings of this report, and a clear timetable for its implementation?

I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for raising that. I am horrified by a great number of the findings. There is clearly a lot of work here. Things are clearly moving in the right direction, and much of the work being undertaken by the CPS is on liaising with victims and ensuring that their experience is as easy as possible, in the hugely traumatic circumstances. There is a lot more to do on joint working, but I am happy to continue liaising with her, in order to update her as this goes forward.