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Sentences for Rape

Volume 700: debated on Tuesday 14 September 2021

The maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment, and already rapists rightly receive significant sentences, with the average sentence in 2020 being more than 10 years. The Government believe that those who commit rape should spend more of their sentence in prison, and under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently before Parliament, we will increase the time that they spend behind bars.

In 2019-20 just 3% of reported rapes led to a prosecution—an historic low. It may be that life sentences can be imposed, but of those who received a jail sentence since this Government came to power, almost 3,000 rapists have been jailed for six years or less. How can the Government claim to reassure victims that justice will be served with those appalling figures?

As I said earlier, the average sentence for rape is more than 10 years, and two-thirds of those convicted of that appalling crime receive more than seven years in prison. However, the hon. Lady is right, and as the Lord Chancellor and I have said before in this House, the number of cases of this horrendous crime that get to court are not high enough. I am leading a taskforce, which includes the Crown Prosecution Service and police leaders across the country, to drive that number upwards. We are determined to get more cases into court, so that more victims see justice done.