Labour attacks coalition over crime

Hampshire Chronicle: Yvette Cooper has hit out at the Government over "hollowing out" the police service. Yvette Cooper has hit out at the Government over "hollowing out" the police service.

The coalition has been accused of failing victims of rape, domestic violence and child sex abuse by "hollowing out" the police service.

The number of offences referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has been falling since the general election despite a rise in recorded crime levels, according to Labour.

Rape allegations registered by police increased from 15,892 in 2010-11 to 16,327 last year. But pre-charge decisions dropped from 8,130 to 5,404 and prosecutions fell from 4,208 to 3,692.

Reports of domestic violence went up 9.4% over the period, but cases sent to the CPS went down by 13% and successful prosecutions 11%.

Last year, a reported sexual offence against a child was said to be 24% less likely to be passed from the police to the CPS than in 2010/11.

Labour compiled the figures using official data, parliamentary questions and the Freedom of Information Act.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "The Police Service is being hollowed out by this Tory-led Government and victims of rape, domestic violence and child sex abuse are suffering as a result.

"There is a very serious drop in action against the most serious criminals and abusers since the Government's police cuts and fragmented reforms started and specialist police units have been cut back. Victims of crime and abuse are being let down as a result.

"The number of rape, domestic violence and child abuse cases reported to the police is going up. But the number of cases that the police put forward for prosecution is plummeting as the service is being hollowed out.

"This has all happened in the last two years, yet the Home Secretary is turning her back on the problem she has created. Something is going badly wrong.

"We cannot go back to those days where justice was too long denied and these crimes were hidden, with victims often treated poorly, not believed, or ignored.

"We need new national standards in dealing with these serious crimes and direct action by all Chief Constables to address these appalling figures.

"I shall be contacting all of them and urging them to act even without the support of the Home Secretary."

Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said: "More rapes are being reported to the police, conviction rates for violence against women and girls are at their highest-ever levels and sentences for rapists are longer.

"However, I am determined to improve the criminal justice system's response to rape and domestic violence and I have met the Director of Public Prosecutions who has agreed to establish a CPS- police scrutiny panel to look at how forces deal with these terrible crimes.

"Also, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has been asked to review the police response to domestic violence and recommend where further improvements can be made."

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