The government has apologised to thousands of rape victims failed by the criminal justice system as it published the findings of a long-awaited ‘end-to-end’ review.

Lord chancellor Robert Buckland said too many victims of rape and sexual violence have been denied justice due to ‘systemic failings’. He said: ‘We are deeply sorry for this and will not rest until real improvements are made - from transforming the support given to victims, to ensuring cases are investigated fully and prosecuted robustly.’

Today’s report states that 43,187 reports of rape were recorded by police compared to 24,093 in 2015/16. However, only 3% of rape offences assigned a police outcome in 2019/20 resulted in a charge or summons, down from 13% in 2015/16. Prosecutions and convictions have fallen by 62% and 47% respectively during that time.

A Gazette investigation in 2019 revealed that an undisclosed CPS target may have been behind huge declines in numbers of rape suspects charged since 2016.

Today, the government unveiled an action plan to return the volume of rape cases going through the courts to 2016 levels by the end of this parliament.

Measures include regularly publishing performance scorecards, which will include metrics on timeliness, quality of cases and victim engagement. The first scorecard will be published by December.

The government will also test a new entitlement for rape victims to challenge the scope of information requests at the police investigation stage with Thames Valley Police.

The Law Commission will review ‘rape myths’ to ensure courts are tackling them at every opportunity and examine the use of victims’ sexual history as evidence.

However today’s report was met with concern. Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: ‘Given the backlogs in the criminal courts and the attrition rates in rape and sexual offence cases, resources must be provided throughout our criminal justice system to ensure these proposals result in the desired improvements. The Law Society and its members will be keen to see the detail of proposals to provide legal advice to complainants. It is of course important to note that the current inadequate funding of legal advice to defendants and suspects acts as a barrier to swift justice for all parties.’