Rape victims are waiting an average of 622 days to see justice as they are warned no one is available to prosecute their case due to shortage of lawyers

  • A woman pulled out after waiting ‘longer than WWII in Europe’ to give evidence 
  • Boris Johnson admitted too many women are waiting for cases to be heard
  • Rape victims are being told there is no one available to prosecute their case 

Rape victims are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of years of delays and a shortage of lawyers to prosecute their attackers.

In one recent case, a woman pulled out of a prosecution after waiting six years to give evidence, with the prosecutor saying the case had taken ‘longer than the entire Second World War in Europe’.

Boris Johnson has admitted that too many women are waiting for their cases to be heard due to worsening court backlogs.

Ministry of Justice figures showed that in the second quarter of this year, the average time between a crime taking place and a court case being resolved was 622 days – up from 368 a year earlier

Now it has emerged that rape victims are being told there is no one available to prosecute their case due to a shortage of lawyers, particularly specialist rape and serious sexual offences prosecutors.

Victims in England and Wales are waiting an average of more than 600 days to see justice – a rise of nearly 70 per cent in a year.

Ministry of Justice figures showed that in the second quarter of this year, the average time between a crime taking place and a court case being resolved was 622 days – up from 368 a year earlier. 

It comes as the backlog of cases in crown courts has risen to record levels, almost doubling in the past two years to sit at 60,692. Sexual offences, including rape, make up around a tenth of those cases.

Now victims who have seen their cases delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic are being told officials can’t find anyone to prosecute their case.

The Government wants to increase the number of cases being heard with longer sitting days and extra courts. 

Boris Johnson has admitted that too many women are waiting for their cases to be heard due to worsening court backlogs

But lawyers say trials are being delayed because barristers cannot be found to prosecute or defend and there are not enough recorders – senior barristers who sit part time as judges – to hear cases.

In one case at Derby Crown Court, the Crown Prosecution Service contacted 40 sets of legal chambers around Britain before it found a specialist lawyer to prosecute.

Jo Sidhu QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, warned that the criminal justice system was facing the ‘perfect storm’, adding: ‘The crisis is immediate. Every single day trials are stood out for lack of available prosecution or defence barristers.’

The Ministry of Justice last night denied there was a shortage of barristers.

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