Rachel Woods MLA has responded to the publication of the NI Public Prosecution Service’s latest sexual offences statistical bulletin. The statistics reveal a significant drop in the prosecution and conviction rate of rape cases in Northern Ireland.
The North Down MLA, who sits on the Justice Committee, said: “These figures are a damning indictment of our criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. It is clear that the system is failing victims and survivors of sexual offences. The fact that, in the last year, only one out of every ten cases involving the specific offence of rape resulted in prosecution is an absolute disgrace.
“The overall prosecution rate for rape has fallen from just over 25% in 2016/17 to just under 16% in 2020/21. The number of rape convictions has more than halved in the last year, from 20 in 2019/20 to just 8 in 2020/21.
“I understand that these figures are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that some courts were not sitting, but the overall picture remains deeply concerning. I recognise that efforts have been made in recent years, and particularly welcome the moves to deal with serious sexual offence cases involving children under 13 years old as priority.
“It’s been two years since the publication of the Gillen Review into how the justice system deals with serious sexual offences in Northern Ireland, but many of its recommendations remain undelivered. These figures should be a wake-up call for the Justice Minister that much more needs to be done to ensure that the courts deliver justice for victims and survivors of rape and other sexual offences.
“I would encourage anyone that has been a victim of any sexual offence to come forward, seek support, and make a report."
Media contact: Jack O'Dwyer-Henry (07504410770)