Justice Secretary Robert Buckland must resign if he can't turn around plunging prosecution and conviction rapes for rape within a year, the Labour Party has said.
Shadow justice secretary David Lammy accused Mr Buckland of shedding “crocodile tears” this week when he apologised for the downward trends in bringing sexual offenders to justice.
Ministers have set out plans for a “system and culture change” after convictions for rape and lesser offences in England and Wales were revealed to have hit a record low.
Buckland apologised publicly for the dire situation, accepting Government cuts to the legal system played a part in the fall in conviction rates.
But Lammy said: “The Justice Secretary’s crocodile tears will mean nothing if the Government fails to reverse its disastrous failure of rape victims.
“The Conservatives’ decade of cuts to the justice system has let rapists and other violent criminals off the hook while denying victims justice.
“Rape convictions and prosecutions have more than halved in three years. If he cannot reverse these figures within a year of his apology, the Justice Secretary should do the honourable thing and resign.”
In a recent front page story, The Guardian reported that there was a rape charge rate of just 1.6% in 2020. However, NationalWorld analysis revealed that this figure was incorrect as the calculations wrongly included 15,000 cases that have not yet been assigned an outcome because the police are still dealing with them. The charge rate rises to 2.3% once incomplete cases are excluded.
A Tory spokesman accused Lammy of “continuing to play politics with such a serious issue”.
“But more worryingly, It shows naivety and a poor understanding of the criminal justice system to think that five years of decline can be reversed at the drop of a hat,” the spokesman added.
“We’re focused on delivering justice for victims, not headlines for newspapers.”
Buckland has cited a rafter of measures aimed at increasing allegations made to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as well as increasing the number of suspects charged and cases reaching court.
A new approach to investigations which ensures that there is an “early and robust assessment of suspect behaviour and offending patterns” is also planned.
Additional reporting by PA.