In Parliament I am a member of both the Home Affairs and Justice Select Committees and as I write this column on International Women’s Day (Wednesday) I wish to highlight the appalling situation facing female complainants when making allegations of rape and serious sexual offending.

In the year ending June 2022, the police nationally recorded the highest number of sexual offences at 196,889 offences.

Thirty six per cent of those (70,633) were allegations of rape.

Both rape and other sexual recorded offences have risen by 20 per cent and 21 per cent respectively from the year ending March 2020.

The numbers are stark but incredibly, charging rates have fallen particularly sharply for rape and serious sexual offence cases.

Between 2014/15 and 2021/22, the charge rate for sexual offences (including rape) fell from 11.3 per cent to 2.9 per cent.

As of April 2022, more than 99 per cent of rapes reported to the police do not end in conviction.

The situation is a national scandal and I have spent my time as an MP campaigning to improve this dreadful situation.

I have a great deal of respect for our dedicated police officers in Bury and believe we have an excellent borough commander but there must be a change in mindset for the police throughout the country when dealing with such cases.

Most rape allegations are not even referred to the Crown Prosecution Service by the police.

The situation with allegations of domestic violence is equally unacceptable.

The volume of domestic abuse charges in 2022 had decreased by seven per cent when compared to the previous year and by 45 per cent when compared to the year ending June 2016.

Steps are being taken to provide appropriate support services for victims but the fundamental way such allegations are dealt with led the Domestic Abuse Commissioner to say that victims “have contacted our office have stated that they had their allegations minimised or been accused of lying".

The process leading up to a potential criminal charge must continue to be fundamentally reviewed.

For other offences that disproportionately impact women, such as stalking, the charge rate in 2022 was five per cent and four per cent for harassment. It is utterly unacceptable and must change quickly.

Throughout my professional life, I have met many fine police officers and other professionals committed to ensuring justice for victims but there is something fundamentally wrong if as a witness before the Home Affairs Select Committee said recently that police officers spend on average one day in five on criminal justice matters.

On International Women’s Day, we must ensure that women and girls have the confidence to report criminal offending of all kinds and that those agencies who are trusted with supporting victims do their job to help and protect those going through the most traumatising and awful circumstances.

As long as I remain an MP I will never stop my campaign to ensure that women and girls have the protection and support they need from the criminal justice system.