Tories promise £15M boost to speed up prosecutions for rape

The criminal justice system will receive an extra £15 million to speed up prosecutions for rape if the Conservatives win the General Election, the party has pledged.

The package of measures would support police and the Crown Prosecution Service in handling rape cases with £10 million to speed up charging decisions.

Funding for the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Fund would double by 2021-22 to £16 million and there would be a £2 million boost to increase the number of independent sexual violence advisers.

The plans include a previous funding pledge of £5 million that has yet to kick in.

The announcement is the latest in a series of law and order proposals from the Tories, including increasing stop-and-search powers for police to tackle knife crime and making child murderers serve whole-life sentences.

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said the funding boost would help those who have been through “horrific and harrowing experiences”.

“They may have had their lives ripped apart because of physical, emotional or economic abuse,” she said.

“These plans will help to ensure that the system is working for them, not against them, and that they can always count on receiving the justice and support that they deserve.”

The Tories also announced the Victims Surcharge – a fee paid by convicted offenders – will increase by 25% to support victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

A “root-and-branch review” of the parole system would include allowing victims and the media to apply to attend parole hearings.

The Prisoners (Disclosure Of Information About Victims) Bill, known as Helen’s Law, which was brought to Parliament last month but did not complete its passage before dissolution, will also be brought back in a Tory Queen’s Speech.

The Bill would make it a legal requirement for the Parole Board to take into account a killer’s failure to disclose the location of their victim’s remains when considering them for release.

It is named after Helen McCourt, whose body has never been found after she was killed in 1988.

The Tories would also bring back the Domestic Abuse Bill at the start of a new Parliament.

The Bill was introduced with cross-party support by Theresa May’s Government in July and proposes the first Government definition of domestic abuse, including financial abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.

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