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Rape Crisis comments on new Victims' Bill proposal


If you are affected by anything you read here, you can talk to us. We will listen to you and believe you. And we never judge.

Today (25 May) the Government has announced details of its proposed Victims’ Bill, which aims to improve support for victims and pave the way for the first-ever Victims’ Law.

Within the legislation are measures that Rape Crisis welcomes, including:

  • Victim’s views being sought at regular points during their case
  • Greater accountability placed on agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and police for the service they provide to victims
  • An easier process for victims to make complaints about the service they receive
  • Prosecutors obliged to meet victims before certain trials
  • National rollout of the ability for victims to pre-record their cross examination

If implemented, these steps will give survivors a voice in a space where their needs often go unheard. We know that regular communication is an important part of keeping victims and survivors engaged with the criminal justice process, and a meeting with prosecutors before a trial will encourage better relationships with the CPS.

We have long called for greater accountability from justice agencies. Those who report rape should expect a level of professionalism, empathy and respect from the police and CPS, if this is not upheld victims absolutely have a right to make a complaint. We’re pleased to see the complaints process has been made easier, with clearer routes of redress if victims and survivors don’t receive the support they are entitled to. It’s important to note though, that the increased scrutiny of justice agencies is underpinned with more support and training for them. The police and CPS can be expected to act within the best interests of survivors when they have had adequate and specialist training and are provided with the resources needed to give each rape case the attention and diligence it deserves.

There are also measures within the legislation that are a cause for concern.

The draft bill calls for a statutory definition for Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA). We are concerned that a statutory definition will impact the service that ISVAs can deliver by limiting the scope of the role and putting restrictions on it. The ‘one size fits all’ approach fails to recognise the needs of survivors from different backgrounds and disregards the expertise of ISVAs who are working within a range of communities.

Rape Crisis England & Wales’ CEO Jayne Butler states:

“The Victims’ Bill is an important first step in improving the justice system for rape victims and survivors. There have been many reports, many promises and many failings, and this Bill looks to put into legislation measures that we know will vastly improve the experiences of those who report rape.

It is encouraging to see the emphasis on support for victims and survivors, as this acknowledges that justice is not just a conviction. We are hopeful that these measures will improve the experiences of victims and survivors when they engage with the justice system. Reporting a rape and going to court should not be the ordeal that it is: we continue to insist that the police, CPS and government agencies work hard to centre victims’ rights and needs. At present, the cost to victims in terms of their mental health is too high. Trust and confidence will only follow if there is a substantial change. This Bill is a start and it needs to be backed by sustainable funding for specialist support services. It is critical that the Government also considers how it will ensure that victims and survivors receive both immediate and long-term support, regardless of whether they choose to participate in the criminal justice system.”