Labour slams Tory justice chaos with record 17,000 victims waiting for delayed trials

Labour is pledging to boost the number of public prosecutors by 50% as figures show a record 17,000 victims waiting for justice.

Party analysis found that last year 12,460 cases had not come to trial for between one and two years, and 4,893 for more than two years.

Five years ago just 3,700 were delayed by over a year.

The average wait for a rape trial is nearly three years for the first time ever.

It means many offenders are walking free because victims are dropping out of cases in despair.

The National Audit Office says delays have “disproportionately affected” victims of serious sexual offences.

Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer

Labour blames the fall in the number of Crown Prosecution Service lawyers under the Tories.

Lockdowns have played their part in the backlog but Labour says the Tories have not done enough since to get the figures down.

Shadow Victims Minister Anna McMorrin said: “Victims are now paying the price, with a record low rate in the number of criminals being punished.”

Labour’s plan is to increase by half the number of lawyers allowed to be crown prosecutors, taking the number from 240 to 357.

If Labour leader Keir Starmer becomes PM he would also open specialist rape courts, list those cases as a priority and fast-track them.

He plans to do that by using spare space in crown court buildings to set up a specialist courtroom for dealing with rape trials.

A Conservative spokesman said: “This Conservative government is now getting the backlog down by recruiting more judges and prosecutors, keeping extra courtrooms open and increasing pay for barristers and solicitors.”

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