Rape victims face FOUR-year wait for justice because of evidence backlog with 6,000 mobile phones waiting to be examined Rape trials are being delayed or scrapped due to delays in processing evidence.
Rape trials are being delayed or abandoned because police are taking more than a year to examine potentially key mobile phones for evidence with nearly 6,000 cases waiting to be inspected.
Significantly in some scenarios, the delays go on for so long that alleged victims are dropping their cases in frustration and defendants are known to be left on bail for up to four years, senior lawyers claim.
A Mail investigation can reveal that in response to Freedom of Information requests:
- 23 police forces admit taking at least three months before looking for evidence on electronic devices belonging to suspects and alleged victims.
- Metropolitan Police and four other forces admit their digital forensic units are struggling with backlogs of up to 12 months.
- 5,961 digital forensic cases were waiting to be allocated from the 34 forces which responded. The waiting times range from a couple of days to over 12 months.
There are currently 6,000 mobile phones which may contain vital evidence that are awaiting examination in connection with rape and sexual assault cases in England and Wales
Some victims are waiting for up to four years before their cases are brought to court, prompting some to drop the charges
These disturbing revelations come just days after we revealed rape victims face a postcode lottery for justice with some regions seeing cases twice as likely to be shelved than going ahead in courts.
The Midlands emerged as the worst region in the country with 56 per cent of trials failing to start on their scheduled date.
Nationally, there were over 6,400 outstanding sexual offence trials across England and Wales as of 30 September 2021.
Now a further failing has been uncovered with our inquiries showing a long backlog in processing electronic devices.
Digital forensic units deal with the retrieval and examination of data from computers, mobile phones and other media devices. Among the reasons for delays are severely-limited resources and the complex nature of analysing these devices.
James Mulholland QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said: ‘It may be shocking for the public to hear of at least 6,000 digital forensics cases in the queue due to police resources, but for criminal lawyers it comes as, tragically, little surprise.
‘Delays lead to people walking away from the criminal process, and there are many who have done so. Not only do rape complainants walk away but those that do remain, the delays cause problems with memory and therefore the whole delay scenario impacts upon the Crown Court structure in terms of the reliability of witnesses.
‘Some innocent defendants may have to wait, on bail, for four years or more for a trial for a chance to be acquitted and clear his or her name.’
Read the full article from the Mail Online below: