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In response to DPP Alison Saunders' interview with the Evening Standard

22 Jan 2018

Today (22nd January 2018), the Evening Standard carried an interview with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alison Saunders, under the headline, 'Say no or 'rapists' may walk free: new warning from Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders after trials collapse.' 

In response, Rape Crisis England & Wales said:

"The law is clear that someone consents to sexual activity when they agree by choice and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

If someone has been threatened, coerced or scared into submitting to sexual activity, they have not freely consented. We all have a moral and legal responsibility to actively seek any sexual partner's consent and be confident it's been fully and freely given before doing anything sexual. And consent is an ongoing process; if we feel it's been lost or withdrawn at any point, we must stop.

Through more than 40 years' experience of providing frontline, specialist support to people whose lives have been impacted by sexual violence, we know it's common for victims and survivors to freeze or flop, finding themselves unable to speak, fight back or even move, and that knowledge is backed up by a large body of independent evidence, of which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is aware. 

In recent years, Rape Crisis Centres have seen unprecedented need and demand for our specialist services, and this continues to grow.

With this kind of media coverage of sexual violence also on the rise, victims and survivors are telling us their confidence in the criminal justice system is being eroded and undermined each time they read or hear or watch this sort of story.

We must not forget that the vast majority of those who experience sexual violence still choose never to report to the police, and last year only 16% of cases that were reported reached court. This does not represent justice.

The system is currently failing victims and survivors of sexual violence in multiple ways at every stage of the process; it's time for radical overhaul."