SDLP Justice Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has said the latest figures around sexual offences highlights the need for a Strategy to Tackle Violence Against Women and Girls.
It follows the publication of the PPS’ annual report on cases involving sexual offences, which shows that in 2021/22, prosecution rates for all sexual offences increased by 8% from the previous year from 23.6% to 31.6%.
The Foyle MLA said:
“Sexual offences are truly heinous and terrible crimes and it is incumbent on our justice system to bring the full force of the law to bear on the people behind them. While of course it is welcome that there are signs of gradual improvements in terms of the conviction rate as well as improvements in the time taken to issue decisions, I know that the PPS and its partners recognise that we still have much more to do. This is particularly true when it comes to the amount of time that victims have to wait for prosecutorial decisions in the Crown Court, as they are still waiting for almost a year.
“It’s right that we recognise that although these offences do not just impact women and girls, they are disproportionately affected. I believe these statistics show yet more evidence why we need a reformed Executive to deliver a Strategy to Tackle Violence Against Women and Girls, as the responsibility to eradicate these abhorrent crimes does not just rest with our police service or the PPS. This requires change in almost every element of our society, from our education system to misogynistic societal attitudes which are still far too prevalent and fuel this kind of crime.
“I look forward to the release of the updated PPS Sexual Offences Policy coming forward early next year. While we continue to make progress, I would urge anyone who has been a victim of these crimes to please report it to the police. You will be listened to and treated with respect and it is so important that you speak out and report your experience to protect yourself and others.”