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Complainants in rape cases may be spared court ordeal

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has vowed to spare alleged rape victims the ordeal of appearing in court.

Instead they will be able to record their evidence in an attempt to boost the prosecution rates of sex crimes.

Campaigners were angry when ministers implemented this at only three crown courts earlier this year as part of a test. But Mr Raab said he would ‘certainly be looking to expand that right across the country’ as ‘the results have been good’.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has vowed to spare alleged rape victims the ordeal of appearing in court 

The special measure, known as Section 28, is offered to vulnerable witnesses.

Mr Raab, who was told by Boris Johnson to make prosecutions his top priority, told The Times that one of the advantages of Section 28 is that ‘we’re getting more people pleading early, rather than just hanging on to see what the victim looks like.’

Only 2,102 out of 58,856 rape cases led to prosecutions in the year to March 2020 in England and Wales.

Section 28, which is offered to vulnerable witnesses, allowing them to record evidence privately before trials, could be the answer to tackling those figures.

Mr Raab, who was told by Boris Johnson to make prosecutions his top priority, told the Times that one of the advantages of the Section 28 pre-recorded evidence is that ‘we’re getting more people pleading early, rather than just hanging on to see what the victim looks like.’

This comes as the National Audit Office (NAO) last week reported that the number of rape and sexual assault victims, who have waited more than a year for their trial to go through the courts, rose from 246 to 1,316 - a 435% increase.

The spending watchdog said the crown court backlog could lead to declining cases as victims withdrew and defendants prey on the fading recollections of witnesses and victims.

Only 2,102 out of 58,856 rape cases led to prosecutions in the year to March 2020 in England and Wales