Only one in seven rape victims believe they will get justice by reporting their assault to the police, a study by the Victims Commissioner has found. The research, undertaken by Vera Baird QC, found that out of the 491 survivors, 25% did not even report their attack with the vast majority of these respondents fearing they would be disbelieved. The second most cited reason for not reporting the attack was a fear that the case would not be investigated successfully based on ‘my gender, lifestyle or sexuality’.
‘This suggests that survivors fear the impact of societal rape myths on their credibility, such as that police regard a high number of rape complaints as false and that only a ‘perfect’ model victim will be believed,’ said Baird upon presenting the research.
According to the research, only half of survivors felt that the police treated them with respect during the reporting stage, with the other half reporting that they felt that they were under investigation themselves. Baird describes as ‘intrusive’ requests by the police to access survivors mobile phone data.
As reported in July, the so-called ‘digital strip searching’ of victims phones was officially scrapped following a legal challenge from the Centre for Women’s Justice over the measures, arguing that the use of the forms were ‘unlawful… and led to intrusive disclosure requests’.
Despite cross examination of previous sexual history being restricted by law under the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, around two thirds of survivors surveyed reported that they were questioned about their prior sexual history.
Baird underlined that to rape survivors, ‘the criminal justice system is bound to fail and, worse still, to do so in a way that re-victimises them’. ‘If survivors of this deeply damaging and highly prevalent crime are to feel that the ‘state is on their side’, the Government’s end-to-end rape review must produce radical cultural transformation across the criminal justice system,’ she told the Telegraph.