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Labour pledges to reverse ‘collapse in solving crime’ with ‘Charging Commission’ | Politics News

Labour has set up a task force responsible for drawing up reforms to increase the number of crimes solved – which the party would implement if it wins the next election.

The Opposition said more than 90% of crimes are going unsolved under the Tories, with a record 2.4 million cases dropped due to evidential difficulties in the last year alone.

Labour has set up a so-called “Charging Commission” with immediate effect. It will aim to identify reasons for the “woeful” decline in successful law enforcement and develop credible proposals to turn things around.

Senior experts from across the policing and prosecutorial sectors will sit on the commission. It will be chaired by the former Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, the party said.

Dame Vera quit as the victims’ commissioner in September last year, saying in a damning resignation letter that the “criminal justice system is in chaos” and ministers have downgraded victims’ interest.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “It should be unthinkable for so many more crimes to face no consequences whatsoever, but that is the shameful reality after 13 Conservative years.

“This expert Commission will help us to deliver on our pledge to make Britain safer.”

Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has told Sky News that the party is "working really hard" ahead of the upcoming by-elections.
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Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper

Labour pointed to recent Home Office figures showing that in the year to March 2023, there were “evidential difficulties” with 2.4 million out of 5.4 million recorded crimes.

Just 9.7% of all crimes resulted in a charge, out-of-court action or diversionary activity – leaving over 90% unsolved.

Labour said a record-high number of victims are giving up on the criminal justice system, with 1.6 million cases being dropped due to complainants pulling out.

It comes as the number of days it takes to charge a suspect has tripled since 2016, from 14 to 44.

Responding to Labour’s proposals, a Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Labour are soft on crime and soft on criminals. Keir Starmer has consistently whipped his MPs to vote against stronger sentences for violent offenders and rapists.

“Where Labour are in power, crime is over a third higher than Conservative-run areas, and as Director of Prosecutions Keir Starmer oversaw a huge drop in the number of sexual offences that were prosecuted.

“Meanwhile, we have cut the reoffending rate to lower than when Labour left office, increased the conviction rate by 15%, doubled charge rates for rape, and introduced tougher sentences for the worst offenders.”

Read more:
‘Unforgivable lack of urgency’ to improve support for rape survivors

According to Labour, the party’s Charging Commission will devise recommendations for key areas, including improvements to digital forensics to help police crack more cases and cutting red tape in joint-working arrangements between forces and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Alongside Dame Vera, members who have agreed to join the commission include former chief constable Stephen Otter, former chief crown prosecutor Drusilla Sharpling and West Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe.

Emily Thornberry, the shadow attorney general, said it was time to replace the “blame game” between the police and the CPS over plummeting charge rates with cooperation to punish criminals and protect communities.

Labour's Emily Thornberry
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Labour’s Emily Thornberry

Dame Vera said the commission will “forensically investigate the causes of this charging crisis, and set out robust recommendations for recovery”.

She said: “The woeful collapse in charging rates has exposed victims of crime to intolerable anguish and uncertainty, and we are now seeing record numbers of victims giving up on the criminal justice system altogether.

“Investigations and prosecutions for serious crimes like rape are in a dismal state, the criminal justice system is in chaos, and things simply cannot stay as they are.”

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Labour: UK in ‘doom loop’ when it comes to crime

Barristers have also told Sky News that the justice system is “about to crack” with a shortage of prosecutors, judges and courtrooms hindering efforts to clear the crown court backlog.

The state of the justice system is expected to be a dominant issue at the next general election, with both major parties seeking to sell themselves to voters as the party of law and order.

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

Caroline Flack: Met Police apologises to family of former Love Island presenter over lack of records on charging decision | Ents & Arts News

Caroline Flack’s family members have received an apology from the Met Police over the force’s failure to keep a record about a decision to charge her with assault rather than giving her a caution.

The former Love Island presenter was facing prosecution for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend when she took her own life in February 2020.

Her mother, Christine Flack, has said she believes her daughter was treated differently by the police because she was famous.

Following the incident involving Flack and her boyfriend Lewis Burton in December 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) recommended that the star should receive a caution. However, the Met Police appealed this, and she was instead charged with assault by beating.

At the inquest into her death, a coroner ruled that the 40-year-old star took her own life after learning prosecutors were pressing ahead with the charge.

A spokesperson for the Met Police said the force was ordered to apologise to Flack’s family following a review by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which found there was not a “record of rationale” to appeal against the CPS decision.

“We have done so and acknowledged the impact that this has had on them,” the Met spokesperson said. “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Ms Flack’s family for their loss.”

After an initial investigation by the force’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) found there was no misconduct, Flack’s family escalated their concerns to the IOPC – and the Met was ordered to reinvestigate complaints relating to the process involved in appealing against the CPS decision.

This investigation concluded in May 2022, with the DPS finding again that the service provided was acceptable – although the force did identify “some learning around using IT systems to record appeal decisions and the use of decision models for cautions, which are being implemented”.

In June 2022, the IOPC received another application to review the force’s reinvestigation.

Caroline Flack
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Flack presented Love Island but stood down from the role after being charged

An IOPC spokesperson said that following “a thorough assessment of this case” the review had been partially upheld. While it did not identify any misconduct, it concluded that one officer should receive “reflective practice”.

“We determined there were individual and organisational failings by the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service), therefore the service provided did not reach the standard a reasonable person could expect in relation to some aspects of the reinvestigation,” the spokesperson said.

“This is because the officer involved did not record their rationale for appealing the original CPS decision to take no further action and the force, at that time, had no system in place to record rationales in these circumstances.

“We have concluded the officer involved should be subject to the reflective practice review process. We have also asked the MPS to apologise to the complainant in relation to the rationale recording, and the absence of a system to record such rationales.”

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK