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Committee takes evidence on causes of low prosecution rates for sexual offences – Chairs of Dorrian, Gillen and Stern reviews to give evidence

19 October 2021

The Home Affairs Committee continues its inquiry into the investigation and prosecution of rape on Wednesday 20 October with an evidence session focussing on recent national reviews of the handling of sexual offences in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. It will also look at the police perspective on the causes of low charging and prosecution rates for sexual offences. 

Purpose of the session

The first panel will feature the Chairs of three recent inquiries into legal and procedural issues relating to the management of sexual offences cases – Lady Dorrian, Chair of the Dorrian Review in Scotland; Sir John Gillen, Chair of the Gillen review in Northern Ireland; and Baroness Stern, Chair of the Stern Review in England and Wales. The session will examine the key lessons learnt in these inquiries and the extent to which these have translated into meaningful change for how rape and sexual assault cases are handled. It will also consider how the scope of these inquiries compares to the UK Government’s ‘end-to-end’ Rape Review. 

The second panel will investigate the causes of low rape prosecution and charging rates from the perspective of the police as the Committee takes evidence from representatives of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Association for Police and Crime Commissioners and the College of Policing. It will look at what dedicated strategies have been put in place to increase the number of successful prosecutions, including the Joint National Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) Action Plan, and the impact these have had. It will also look at the different approaches taken by individual police forces, in particular the impact of specialist sexual offences teams. 


Wednesday 20 October

At 10am

Panel One: 

  • The Rt Hon Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk, Scotland and Chair of the review to improve the management of sexual offence cases in Scotland (the Dorrian Review)  
  • Sir John Gillen, former Lord Justice of Appeal of Northern Ireland and lead for the review into the law and procedures in serious sexual offences in Northern Ireland (the Gillen Review)  
  • Baroness Vivien Stern CBE, who carried out an independent review into how rape complaints are handled by public authorities in England and Wales in 2010 (the Stern Review) 

Panel Two:   

  • Sarah Crew, Temporary Chief Constable for Avon and Somerset Police and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Rape and Adult Sexual Offences  
  • Donna Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Hampshire & Isle of Wight, and joint national lead for supporting victims, the Association for Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC)  
  • David Tucker, Faculty lead on crime and criminal justice, College of Policing  

Further information

Image: PA