SDLP Justice Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has said that the justice system is failing victims of sexual offences, following the publication of new statistics by the Public Prosecution Service.
The figures revealed that there has been an increase of 23.1% from 2021/22 to 2022/23 in the number of files involving a sexual offence received by the PPS.
Although there has been a decrease of decisions meeting the test for prosecution, the PPS maintains it is largely consistent with previous years.
The average number of calendar days for prosecution in the Crown Court in cases involving sexual offences was 272 calendar days.
Said the Foyle MLA: “The figures released by the PPS in relation to crimes involving sexual offences add yet more evidence to the argument that our justice system is currently failing victims of sexual offences.
“While many positive steps have been taken, including new legislation through the department and the publication of the PSNI’s action plan to tackle violence against women and girls, the truth is that for far too many victims, the system is still moving far too slowly.
“I hear regularly from constituents who have borne the brunt of the justice system’s failure on this issue, including from victims who have lost total confidence in the system to properly deal with these traumatic crimes.
“We must do everything we can to ensure that at every stage of the process in dealing with sexual offences victims are supported so that more people feel they are able to come forward.
“I know many will be concerned that these figures only represent the tip of the iceberg.
“Early intervention is also crucial on this issue, which is another reason for the introduction of comprehensive relationship and sexual education in our schools so all our young people understand consent and healthy relationships.
“We also need more progress on the implementation of the Gillen Review recommendations to secure the transformational change that is needed.
“There is no doubt that a coordinated approach is needed between the Department of Justice and its agencies, as well as close collaboration between the Executive departments and a multi-year budget that can guarantee the funding needed.
“This requires a restored Executive and a Justice Minister who is willing and capable of leading a strong programme of work on this issue and the SDLP Opposition will be ready to hold them to account on delivering the necessary change.”Tags: