Rape cases hurt by cuts

There was a statement in Parliament on rape offences earlier this week. The Justice Secretary expressed sorrow at the news that in only 1.6% of rape cases is someone charged.

He then toured TV studios saying it was nothing to do with him and objecting to criticism from Labour. The Ministry of Justice budget includes the CPS which has seen a 25% funding reduction since the Tories came to power in 2010. Can he really claim there’s no relationship between the drop in prosecutions and such a substantial cut?

As well as funding issues, victims regularly have their privacy invaded, making them feel that they’re the ones on trial. Mobile phones have added a fresh opportunity for scrutiny of their lives.

Police regularly require victims to surrender their devices for checking. The process often takes months, depriving them of their phones which can be a lifeline with family and friends at a time when their need is greatest. No wonder so many victims give up.

I doubt the Justice Secretary is indifferent to all this but it’s a question of urgency. We recently learned that convicted sex offenders can evade police surveillance, on release, by the cheap and simple process of changing their name by deed poll for which there are no criminal checks. This leaves them free to move and carry on their evil activity elsewhere.

Meanwhile I’ve been helping a constituent campaign to stop the uploading of images where over-18s are dressed to look like much younger girls. These are often filmed in a child’s bedroom and clearly designed for paedophiles.

Currently no one is prosecuted for producing or viewing such material, surely this is wrong and it’s time for the law to act. The National Crime Agency recently reported that there may be three times as many sex offenders in this country as originally thought, perhaps as many as 850,000.

We need action, more resources, better support for victims, a solution to the phone problem, closure of the name change loophole, and a clampdown on material produced for paedophiles.

That’s what I want from the Justice Secretary.

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Steve McCabe

Steve McCabe is the Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, and has been an MP continuously since 1 May 1997.

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