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 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.”
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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.
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.”
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.