Labour demands clarity after Robert Buckland U-turn on rape targets
Labour has today written to Robert Buckland demanding clarity following a series of contradictory remarks on the government’s planned actions to tackle record-low rape conviction and prosecution rates brought about by a decade of Conservative incompetence and cuts.
Following an apology from the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, this week, the government outlined its intention to “return the the volumes of cases being referred by the police, charged by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and going to court, to at least 2016 levels – when the decline in prosecutions began to appear.”
However, following Labour’s calls for these targets to be met within a year, and if not for Robert Buckland to resign, the Justice Secretary has now branded such targets “constitutionally illiterate”.
David Lammy MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said:
“After a decade of Conservative incompetence and cuts has led to record-low conviction and prosecution rates for rape, the last thing victims need from the Justice Secretary is a U-turn.
“The Conservatives must urgently clarify whether or not they intend to stick to the target of increasing the number of rapists who are charged and end up in court.“
Notes to Editors
Full text of letter
I am writing to ask for clarity following a series of contradictory remarks you made this week regarding the government’s apology for its failure of rape victims and well as the actions the government is prepared to take to fix these failures.
On Thursday evening, in an interview with the BBC, you said the ‘first thing to do is to say sorry’ to the victims of rape who have experienced ‘failure’ at ‘all stages of the criminal justice system’ and I’m apologising to everybody for the position that we got to’.
One of the main objectives announced alongside the apology, as outlined in the government’s own press release, was to “return the he volumes of cases being referred by the police, charged by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and going to court, to at least 2016 levels – when the decline in prosecutions began to appear.”
Labour responded to the announcement of your Rape Review by calling for the government to return to 2016 levels within a year, rather than by the end of the parliament. In recognition of your position as both Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, as well as the fact that you personally took responsibility for the dropping rates of prosecution and conviction for rape by apologising and saying you were “deeply ashamed”, Labour called for you to resign if this target is not met within a year.
However, on Sky’s Trevor Phillips show on Sunday, you described such targets as “constitutionally literate”, explaining that “decisions made to investigate and prosecute are made by the independent police in their operational work and the CPS, which is independent.”
In describing such a target as being “constitutionally illiterate” you seem to insinute that the record-low prosecution and conviction rates for rape are not the government’s responsibility.
This runs counter to your previous statement that you took personal responsibility for them. Therefore I’d be grateful if you could confirm whether you take responsibility for this crisis or not. If not, do you intend to take back your apology to the victims of rape?
Does the government intend to meet its target of returning the number of rapists who face justice to 2016 levels, or has it scrapped this target because it now views them as “constitutionally illiterate”?