Boris Johnson has vowed to tackle the country’s “frankly inadequate” conviction rates for rape.
The prime minister said “women must have the confidence” sex crimes and domestic violence “are treated seriously” as he acknowledged many feel the issue was “not being addressed”.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) revealed in September that charges, prosecutions and convictions for rape have hit a ten-year low.
The drop comes despite the number of rapes recorded by the police more than doubling over six years to 58,657 in 2018.
The CPS data showed that the number of convictions fell by 26% from 2,635 in 2017-18 to 1,925 in 2018-19. The number of prosecutions completed fell by 33% from 4,517 to 3,034, and the number of cases charged by the CPS declined by 38% to 1,758.
Johnson was responding to Labour’s Naz Shah during Prime Minister’s Questions who told the PM that “women who face sexual abuse often stay silent and suffer alone”.
Shah underlined a recent speech by Rosie Duffield, the Canterbury MP who revealed in the Commons her own harrowing personal experience of coercive control.
Shah said: “The fear of not being believed means brave women put on a smile and go about their daily lives, an example of which we heard from my colleague the member for Canterbury.
“This very silence provides the perpetrators of that abuse the very get out of jail card we need.
“Today I ask the most powerful man in the United Kingdom one simple question: does he agree with me that any woman who is subjected to sexual abuse of any kind, should be believed? Yes or no?”
Johnson said cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence are “not being sufficiently addressed” and added conviction rates were “not going in the right direction”.
The PM, who has made law and order a central plank of his pre-general election campaigning, said it was “absolutely vital” domestic violence services were well funded, adding: “I will say also that I do not believe that as a country we are doing enough to bring the to bring rapists to justice.
“I think the level of prosecute successful prosecutions for the current rate is frankly inadequate. And I wish to raise that with the criminal justice system as I’ve looked at the numbers, they’re not going in the right direction.
“Women must have the confidence that crimes, a domestic violence and sexual abuse, are treated seriously by our law enforcement system.”