Criminal justice scorecards will be published by Christmas and give rape victims confidence in the justice system to come forward, the lord chancellor has told MPs. Grilled extensively on steps he is taking to support prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women and girls, Dominic Raab said he also wants to deter defence lawyers from the 'widespread practice' of encouraging the accused of waiting until they get to court before deciding to plead guilty.
Performance scorecards were first announced in June as part of the government's plan to return the volume of rape cases going through the courts to 2016 levels by the end of this parliament.
Raab told the House of Commons that his department would publish scorecards not only for general crime but specifically for rape, to track performance at every step in the system. ‘That will help to spur an increase in performance, which will give victims the confidence to come forward and get prosecutions to court,' he said.
‘It will be important when we publish the criminal justice scorecards for rape that we can see not just at a national level, but – in due course, following that – at a local level, which areas are getting it right and why those other places are not following best practice, and that we ensure we can correct the gaps.’
The government has been trialling section 28 pre-recorded cross-examinations for vulnerable victims and witnesses.
Asked when section 28 procedures will be extended nationally, Raab said: ‘That is incredibly important not only for the victims of rape, but for other vulnerable victims. The evidence so far from the pilots and the trials needs to be gleaned and carefully evaluated, but I can tell my honourable friend that this is something that I want to look at very carefully not just because of the ability to secure a more effective prosecution, but to deter defence lawyers from perhaps not the universal practice, but certainly the widespread practice of encouraging the accused to wait until the moment in court before they take the decision on whether to plead guilty.’