Rape Crisis responds to new sentencing guideline

12 Dec 2013

Rape Crisis England & Wales broadly welcomes the new sentencing guideline published by the Sentencing Council today (12th December 2013). As the national umbrella body representing specialist sexual violence support organisations for women and girls, we took part in the Sentencing Council's consultation on this updated guideline, working with Durham University Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CriVA) in constructing our response.

In particular, Rape Crisis welcomes the Sentencing Council’s intention to take into account the real impacts of sexual offences on victims, acknowledging that these can be lifelong and extend far beyond physical harm. Rape Crisis is also pleased that the Council has chosen to make clear that children can never be complicit in their own abuse and to emphasise generally that victims are never responsible for acts of sexual violence against them.

The Council's stated commitment to a victim-focussed approach to handling so-called historic cases will be particularly significant to the large numbers of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse with whom we work within the Rape Crisis movement.

These changes potentially represent crucial and positive steps forward and we sincerely hope they will improve the experience of those victims of sexual violence who choose to pursue criminal justice, as well as leading to greater consistency in the sentencing of sexual offenders. Rape Crisis will monitor closely the impact the new guideline has on the women and girls we work with across England and Wales.

For more information about the new Sentencing Council guideline, and to download it and associated documents, visit: www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk