A record number of criminal cases in Wiltshire last year failed to reach court after alleged victims withdrew support, figures reveal.

The figures published by Home Office show that of 40,190 offences closed by Wiltshire Police, 9,369 fell through after the complainants dropped their support for prosecution.

At 23.3 per cent, that was the highest rate of cases to collapse for this reason since comparable figures were first published in 2015, when 18.5 per cent of offences with an outcome ended with this result.

It was also higher than in 2019 when the rate was 20.5 per cent .

Campaigners and the Labour Party say crime victims across England and Wales are being let down by the justice system due to spiralling delays and a lack of support.

The figure for England and Wales was 27.4 per cent – up from 25.1 per cent in 2019 and the highest rate since 2015, when 12.8 per cent were closed for this reason.

The figures do not include Greater Manchester Police because it did not submit complete data.

Victim Support assistant director Rachel Almeida, said the trend was a huge cause for concern.

“The criminal justice process relies on victims to report crimes, assist with investigations and give evidence in court,” she said. “Large rises in victims not supporting action presents a very serious challenge to the whole system.”

Ms Almeida said the factors driving the rise were complex and could include concerns about long waits for a trial, or a lack of confidence in the justice system more generally.

“What is clear is that too often victim care has been seen as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a core component of the process. This must change. Addressing victim attrition must be made a priority by the Government through improving victims’ treatment and faith in the justice process.”

The number of cases in Wiltshire where a victim did not support further action, but a where a suspect was identified, was 8,679 – around 93 per cent, compared to 82 per cent in England and Wales.

Peter Kyle, Labour’s former shadow victims and youth justice minister, said the fact so many victims are dropping out of criminal cases is “allowing perpetrators to go free”.

The Government is failing in its duty to protect victims and keep the public safe, he added.

A government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting all victims of crime. That is why we will be introducing a new Victims’ Law to protect them, as well as recruiting 20,000 more police officers, and boosting funding for support services to build confidence in the justice system.”

He added that £450 million invested to speed up the justice system was already having an impact, with outstanding magistrates’ cases falling by around 80,000 since last summer and crown court cases at pre-Covid levels.