Rape Victims treatment reviewed

22 Sep 2009

Rape Victims treatment reviewed
A review of the treatment of rape victims by the police and other agencies in England and Wales has been ordered by ministers.  It will look at how rape victims are treated from the moment they come into contact with the authorities.
 
Ministers are concerned that the conviction rate remains low despite repeated attempts to improve it.
The review was delayed last month, when it was reported that ministers could not agree what it should cover.  According to government figures, only 6.5% of rapes reported between 2007 and 2008 led to the attacker being convicted.   Although the number of rape convictions has risen in the past decade, the proportion of rape allegations that lead to a conviction has fallen.  Separate figures compiled by equality campaigners show a wide variation in the performance of individual police forces.  The review, to be headed by prisons reformer Baroness Stern, is expected to examine why the conviction rate is so low. But she will not look at the law itself.  Instead the review will look at how different agencies such as police, doctors and lawyers, work together. Source BBC Website news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8267866.stm

For full details of the review download government press release.

A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis stated: Whilst we welcome another review, what we need from this review is real and meaningful change, not just the same conclusions reached again and again. However, even now, at the start of the review, it seems clear that its outcomes will be limited. The review states its intention is to look at ‘end to end systems and processes’, yet misses out the two stages that our experience shows - women need support – before the police report and after the court case.  These two stages are generally missed out of research and reviews, and it appears this review will fall into the same trap.  Rape Crisis believes that this review should also include a focus on perpetrators who rape and use other forms of sexual violence and that excluding offenders from the review is a mistake.  

The review seeks to look at how victim satisfaction with the criminal justice process could be improved. Yet we have known for the last three decades of research and reviews, that some police display very negative attitudes towards rape victims. Women are often discouraged from making official reports because of these attitudes.  The appalling and inexcusable criminal justice actions in the Reid and Worboys cases must never ever be repeated.  
 
So what is different about this review? There have been several in the last decade. One in 2001 followed by a plan to implement the recommendations in 2002. Another review was conducted in 2005 and 2007.  None of the previous research or reviews has resulted in a major shift in how rape is investigated or prosecuted. Rape Crisis is concerned that when we receive the recommendations from this review in 2010 will it be full of more promises when what we really need is change.