The shocking revelation was made by leading barrister Kirsty Brimelow QC to the Home Affairs Committee. She was joined by other prominent lawyers who said that a lack of funding and resources were both factors in the country’s historically low prosecution rates for rape.
Ms Brimelow, vice-chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “There are increasing delays which, I have to say, is very depressing and distressing.
“Now you’re lucky if the case is heard within four years between complaint and trial. And it’s not all to do with backlog.
Complainants “just get fed-up and they drop out of the system. It’s a lot of stress, they want to move on with their lives.”
Rape convictions are at a historic low with 57,000 reported in 2019/20 and only 1,109 convictions.
Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have been severely criticised over the handling of cases. It was recently reported Home Secretary Priti Patel is considering making crimes of violence against women and girls a top policing priority along with terrorism and organised crime.
In one damning report in September, Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham described the scale of violent crimes against women and girls as an “epidemic”.
Yesterday the Home Affairs Committee was told there is not only a delay in getting cases to a crown court trial, there is also an increasing wait for a decision by the CPS to charge an alleged offender.
Other factors causing victims to drop out of the system are a lack of proper support and miscommunication over how their private information will be handled.