Victims’ wait for justice rises more than half in a year

Victims are waiting for more than 600 days to see justice after a crime, a rise of more than 50 per cent in the past year.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice showed that in the second quarter of this year, the average time between a crime taking place and the case going to court was 622 days, up from 368 a year previously.

It comes as the backlog of cases in the crown court has risen yet again to record levels and now sits at 60,692, almost doubling in two years.

Cases of rape and sexual offences make up about a tenth of the backlog.

Some 6,429 cases are in the queue, up from 3,017 two years ago.

London has seen its backlog for sexual offences almost triple from 319 in 2019 to 940 this year.

Jo Sidhu, QC chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “No government can be taken seriously about their commitment to tackle violence against women unless and until we see a massive and sustained investment right across the criminal justice system to increase charging rates.

London‘s sexual offences backlog has risen from 319 in 2019 to 940 this year.

Credit: George Clerk/iStockphoto

“These have been alarmingly low for police-reported rape [We need to] ensure those cases that do make it to court don’t have to wait years to be resolved leaving complainants in permanent distress and perpetrators unchecked.”

He added: “Investing in not just courts but the prosecutors and defenders who keep our creaking criminal justice system from collapse is the only sustainable way to reduce this unacceptable backlog of cases and needless delay to trials. Otherwise victims of crime will continue, understandably, to feel forgotten in their painful wait for justice.

‘It is unacceptable that many victims are having to wait so long’

“Justice is beyond price and its true value is measured not merely by the catalogue of delay that comes through these figures showing a mismatch between listings made and trials that actually complete on time, but also by the respect given to criminal barristers. This seems to be in such low regard that many are being forced to leave as pay for their work simply can’t allow them to make ends meet.”

Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary, said: “It is unacceptable that many victims are having to wait so long to seek justice.

“The pandemic put unprecedented constraint on our ability to hold jury trials but we have made strong progress in the magistrates’ courts to reduce the number of outstanding cases.

“With new super court rooms, the extension of the Nightingale courts into 2022 and limit-free sitting days in crown courts, we will restore the swift access to justice that victims deserve.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *