WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 13 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Rape Victims “still failed” by the criminal justice system 

Rape Victims “still failed” by the criminal justice system 

Women’s rights organisations have criticised the current system for ‘failing’ rape victims two years after the government’s rape review.  

The report, jointly issued by a number of organisations, criticises the government’s progress as having “barely scratched the surface”. Rape charging rates remain below 2016 levels; the backlog of court cases has worsened; the system is underfunded; and rape victims face “invasive and unnecessary” investigations. The report also suggests that the government’s attempt to “disapply” or repeal the Human Rights Act will further undermine protections for victims of rape and sexual abuse.

In 2019, following a record-low rape prosecution rate, the government commissioned an end-to-end review of the Criminal Justice System’s response to victims of rape. A number of women’s organisations, including the Centre for Women’s Justice, and End Violence Against Women Coalition, have collaborated on this report of the review’s progress. Despite its criticisms, the review acknowledges some progress, including a 24/7 support line for victims, and a move towards specialist rape courts.

Harriet Wistrich, Director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, said “the key problem now lies with a failure of the police to refer cases to the CPS or get Early Advice.” She emphasized the need to protect victims during the legal process, saying “Those that report rape are still facing disproportionate requests for personal data which impacts directly on the attrition rate… the government must support our recommendations for independent legal advice.”

Andrea Simon, Director of End Violence Against Women, said that “despite acknowledging the need to overhaul police culture, the government has handed the police more powers which can be abused, and made ongoing threats to the Human Rights Act and our access to the European Court of Human Rights. These are both vital mechanisms for accountability for victims and survivors – women’s rights are human rights.”

The government has said that they are ‘on track to meet the [rape review] ambition’. They are also investing £6.65 million in Operation Soteria, a Home Office scheme aimed at increasing prosecutions through a detailed review of police approaches to rape allegations.