Responding to the latest government figures on charging rates, Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:

“These appalling figures should be front and centre in the minds of all those with an interest in law and order. How much longer can we ignore where all the signs are pointing: that the public is less safe today than they were five years ago? Charging rates for rape are particularly shocking, at 1.3% of all allegations made and domestic burglary at only 3.4%. We cannot sit back while charging rates, along with prosecution and crime detection rates, slip even further. The big picture is that the criminal justice system was in desperate need of help long before COVID-19 took over our attention, and the pandemic will only make it harder for justice to be delivered.

“There are pieces missing from this puzzle. Whilst we know victims who feel they cannot continue to support further action play a role in the decision whether or not to charge, that is in part explicable by a lack of confidence in the system alongside a lack of resources for the police to investigate crime properly. We urge the government not to let criminal justice fall by the wayside, especially in these extraordinary times. They must ensure that when we emerge from lockdown, the British public do not fear leaving their homes, not because of the coronavirus, but because they have lost faith in the effectiveness of our criminal justice system.”