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London rape review: shocking findings


Claire Waxman, London Victims Commissioner, rape review, MOPAC, University of West London, Reflections and RecommendationsAnd we still have some way to go to dispel underlying myths and stereotypes.

A comprehensive review of rape cases in London has revealed that only three per cent of rape allegations result in a conviction and that the accused is known to the victim in the vast majority of cases.

This research has provided the clearest picture to date of reported rape in the capital and the reasons why so few cases result in conviction.

The London Rape Review’, conducted by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the University of West London, looked at 501 allegations of rape reported in London in April 2016 – and the London Victims’ Commissioner, Claire Waxman, has now called for drastic improvements for the way rape victims are treated.

The review found that:

84 per cent of allegations were classified as a crime by the police;

Only six per cent of allegations reached trial, with three per cent resulting in a conviction;

58 per cent of victims withdrew the allegation;

Seven per cent of cases were perpetrated by a stranger;

Almost three in five offences took place in a private or domestic setting, with 28 per cent of all allegations relating to domestic abuse; and

The average length of time from the date of reporting to the trial outcome was 18 months.

Waxman has now issued a series of recommendations aimed at helping to ensure that victims and survivors of rape have the best possible access to services, support and justice to keep them engaged in the criminal justice process.

These include:

More must be done to end the excessive intrusion into personal data through the criminal justice service, continuing the Victims’ Commissioner’s long-standing leading role against excessive disclosure;

The Crown Prosecution Serivce (CPS) should only request therapy notes to show the impact of the crime on the victim and not for any other purpose;

The government should change the law so that all suspects under investigation for domestic abuse, sexual assault or other crimes where there are significant safeguarding issues should only be released from police custody on bail and not released under investigation;

To reduce delays, there should be a suggested maximum of three months for third parties to respond to the provision of material – medical records, counselling records, social services or educational records, or material relating to family court proceedings – that victims have consented to sharing;

The government to fully fund legal support to provide independent advice and legal representation – especially important for use of personal information and data; and

Police and the Crown Prosecution Service staff to undergo trauma training and refreshed guidance to ensure the best evidence is gathered and the impact on the victim remains at a minimum.

Waxman said: “This review has shone a much-needed light on some of the common misconceptions around rape – that it is a crime committed by a predatory stranger in a dark alleyway, or that if a case doesn’t progress to court then it must have been a false allegation.

“The stark reality is that all too often rape happens in the home, committed by someone known to the victim, and that accessing justice is near-impossible.

“We must now work together to drastically improve the treatment that rape victims receive across the board, and I will be working with the Met and CPS to ensure that they undergo appropriate trauma training to aid investigation and charging decision process,” she continued.

“The review has found that resources remain a real pressure for all partners involved in supporting victims of rape and I reiterate my calls on the government to properly fund these vital services.

“The Mayor has stepped up with the creation of his £15m VAWG [violence against women and girls] fund and I am delighted that today the next round of bidding for the fund has opened.

“But long-term investment from the government is needed, which is why I am calling on them to ensure victims have access to fully funded legal support to ensure they are accessing fair trial, seeing as they are having their credibility routinely investigated.

“The government must also introduce a mandatory time limit on external authorities producing information that victims have consented to share to help tackle some of the delays.”

And she added: “There is hard work ahead to change the practices and policies that are disempowering victims. We still have some way to go to dispel underlying myths and stereotypes that continue to limit victims’ justice and support.”

To read the London Rape Review click here.

To read Claire Waxman’s ‘Reflections and Recommendations’, click here.

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