‘Insult to injury’: Rape survivor says government’s review doesn’t go far enough and historical cases must be reopened

Exclusive: ‘If this government is genuinely sorry, then they need to prove it by putting things right’

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Saturday 19 June 2021 18:20 BST
Bonny Turner said she felt rape had been ‘decriminalised’ after her alleged attacker was not prosecuted
Bonny Turner said she felt rape had been ‘decriminalised’ after her alleged attacker was not prosecuted (Frantzesco Kangaris)

A rape survivor whose case was not prosecuted has said a government review has added “insult to injury” for victims.

Bonny Turner waived her right to lifetime anonymity to reveal how the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) refused to charge a man who “confessed” to raping her in a Facebook message.

After failing to overturn the decision in a series of appeals, she said ministers’ apology for years of failings was “little comfort”.

“It adds further pain to my injury, because nowhere in the review does it mention what they will be doing to redress the cases of thousands of victims of rape who were failed in the past five years,” Ms Turner added.

“If this government is genuinely sorry, then they need to prove it by putting things right, not just from this point forward, but retrospectively for all victims of rape failed since 2016.

“Our cases must be reopened, reviewed, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If they are serious about building public confidence, they cannot ignore our plight, where people like me are left permanently carrying the scars of not only rape, but also of the mass injustice.”

But the government told The Independent it would not be instigating a mass review of cases that were not charged.

A spokesperson said: “It is for police and prosecutors to make operational decisions on whether to reopen a case, taking all available evidence into account.”

Only 1.6 per cent of rapes recorded by the police are currently prosecuted in England and Wales – the lowest proportion for any crime.

The home secretary, justice secretary and attorney general said this week they were “deeply ashamed” of plummeting rape prosecutions after figures fell to record lows.

“The vast majority of victims do not see the crime against them charged and reach a court: one in two victims withdraw from rape investigations,” said a joint statement.

“These are trends of which we are deeply ashamed. Victims of rape are being failed. Thousands of victims have gone without justice.”

Policing minister Kit Malthouse says rape review is ‘obviously a shocker’

Following a two-year review of how rape prosecutions are handled through the criminal justice system, the government has unveiled a suite of reforms that it says will increase the number of cases going to court.

Ms Turner said the review did not provide accountability for those who caused rape prosecutions to plummet from 2016 onwards, and that the reforms planned were unambitious and slow.

The decline happened after years of funding cuts to police and the CPS, but the government’s review only contained two glancing mentions of “reduced resources”.

Campaigners and legal groups have questioned how change can be effected without significant funding.

Derek Sweeting QC, chair of the Bar Council, said: “Without better funding for every part of the criminal justice system which deals with these cases, the government’s ambitious action plan will fail.”

The justice secretary, Robert Buckland, has admitted government cuts were a factor in plummeting rape prosecutions, telling the BBC that “big choices were made in the last decade”.

He argued, however, that the change needed was “about more than just money, it's about culture”.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in