Criminal justice system continues to fail rape victims
Widespread reform is needed across the criminal justice system to build trust and secure justice as it continues to fail rape victims, a national report published today has revealed.
A joint inspection on how police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) respond to rape offences found that a lack of collaboration between the police and prosecutors has led to delays and poor communication with victims.
Several issues have been identified by the report including:
Communication with the victim after charge is often confusing and inconsistent
Missed opportunities to protect the victim
Victims of rape feel that they do not always have a voice
Court delays are frequent and late adjournments cause significant stress
Locally, a Wessex-wide external and independent review has been commissioned by all three PCCs in the region, Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire to drive improvements where they are needed in the criminal justice system, and beyond: looking at better services for victims, better training for professionals and better outcomes for victims too.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, said that the report highlights key gaps in the current system that prevents victims of rape receiving justice and although steps are being taken by both his office and Wiltshire Police, in collaboration with the CPS to improve locally, the report shows just how poor the current system is.
He said: “This report highlights the failings in a system designed to bring victims justice and prevent future crime, and whilst improvements may have been made in recent years they simply haven't gone far enough.
“Performance when it comes to investigating and prosecuting rape and serious sexual offences is shocking - both in Wiltshire and across the country.
"That said, the responsibility for this does not sit with one agency alone and changes must be made across all parts of the CJS, and I will continue to work with the Chief Constable to ensure that progress is being made in Wiltshire.
“Work to address the public’s concerns around violence against women and girls, alongside rape and serious sexual assault, will be a key feature of my new Police and Crime Plan. It will provide a joined-up approach, leadership and policing direction for the force over the next four years.”
Wiltshire OPCC continues to commission specialist support for victims of rape and sexual offences, including the Sexual Assault Referral Clinic (SARC). These services are available to all victims, regardless of whether they decide to make a police report or not.
Help is available for victims of rape or serious sexual assault – you do not have to report a crime to get support as a victim.