We use cookies to provide vital functionality. For more information, please see our cookie policy.
By continuing to use our website, you agree to our use of such cookies.

Skip to content Leave this site

Rape Crisis England & Wales disappointed by Attorney General Office’s Disclosure Guidelines

Today (26th May 2022) the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) released their Annual Review of Disclosure and amended Disclosure Guidelines 2022, which come into force on 25th July 2022.

As part of this review, the Attorney General’s Office looked into third-party data requests that victims and survivors are routinely subjected to, such as requests for their medical records, school history, and concerningly their counselling and therapy notes. Although the review acknowledges the harmful impact that these requests have on survivors, it fails to implement any measures that will counteract this harm.

Rape Crisis England & Wales (RCEW) are therefore incredibly disappointed by the guidelines, and the effect they will have on the long-awaited pre-trial therapy guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service.

The AGO Guidelines offer no enhanced protections to ensure confidentiality and victims’ rights to privacy. Rather, the AGO have stated that the current standard for accessing third party materials does not need changing. This means that victims' and survivors’ third-party materials will remain disclosable, in spite of the clear calls for reform from many in the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector.

Our concern is that the focus from police and CPS will remain on investigating victims and survivors and that so-called victim credibility will continue to be used to undermine a case. [SK2] What’s clear is the need for independent legal advice for those who report rape or a serious sexual offence, so that they can appropriately challenge unreasonable requests for information and have the knowledge and support to do so.

Get Informed

Read more about sexual violence, find key statistics, and view our campaigns and reports.

RCEW’s Chief Executive Jayne Butler notes:

“The AGO Review and Disclosure Guidelines fail to recognise how intrusive and upsetting the use of personal data can be for victims and survivors of sexual violence. Demands for information often leave victims and survivors feeling as though they are being the ones investigated.

Not only do excessive data requests cause long delays to charging decisions and trials, they often bear no relevance to a case.

It’s fundamental to the criminal justice process that victims and survivors feel supported by justice agencies – instead, they are being told that if they want to seek justice they must consent to their personal information being requested, accessed and scrutinised.

Victims and survivors should never feel pressured to consent to giving up personal information in fear it might harm their chances of justice