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Candidate Answers to Hustings Q2: Rape

Rape 

Recent research has shown that rape prosecution rates are extremely low, with The Victims Commissioner for England and Wales - Vera Baird recently pointing to a “catastrophic” decline in rape prosecutions, and warning that we are facing ‘the decriminalisation of rape’. This would also lead to more rapes, due to men feeling they can act with impunity. The facts: roughly 80,000 women are raped every year in this country. The number of prosecutions was less than 5% and has now fallen by 50%.

How can the effective decriminilisation of rape (1.4% convicton rate) be reversed?

2. Shahrar Ali        98 wc

Logging misogyny as a hate crime will help the CPS build profiles of repeat offenders and better be able to map escalating offending profiles and take action on the basis of aggravation and build cases on merit. Women are doubly victimised under a system struggling under decades of cuts where police referrals to the CPS have dropped by 23%. Offenders are emboldened with every not guilty verdict and victims are left with the physical and psychological scars of these abhorrent crimes feeling they, not their attackers, have been put on trial. We have to turn that culture around.

2. Rosie Sexton     99 wc

A significant part of the problem lies with the massive challenges caused by the under-funding of the police and criminal justice system. This results in having too few resources available to investigate many crimes thoroughly, long waits before trial (which prolong a victim's ordeal, and can put women off pursuing justice), and conviction targets which can lead to more complex cases being dropped. Reversing this under-funding and the backlogs and flaws within the system must be a priority. We also need to look at how victims are treated and the support given during the process of pursuing a conviction.

2. Amelia Womack     99 wc

Rape is the only crime where the victim becomes the accused. This is unacceptable. I have spokan against this in the media on several occasions as it’s totally unjustifiable that such a small percentage of women who experience rape and come forward find justice. As a result, women are less motivated to report their experiences. We need to address a culture where women are not believed.

We need better investment in rape crisis centers to support women with the full range of support that women need after being raped, as well as provide better support to those reporting rape.

2. Andrea Carey Fuller     180wc

- More dedicated resources to prevent rape.

- More exposure on this issue through the media to highlight this issue and to talk about the life-long effects of rape.

- Continued support for single-sex spaces for women to feel safe and protected

- Longer minimum prison sentences for rape as a deterrent - currently anything from 4-19 years - could set the minimum at 10 years

- More female judges and training for male judges/barristers and solicitors about the sex-based rights of women

- A more supportive process for victims of rape to get advocacy support to report their crime/take their case to court

- A dedicated police line for rape/sexual assault/domestic violence cases which has a dedicated team to follow up on each case and to support the victim through the CPS process.

Also see attached two documents which need to taken up by policy committee within central Government:

1. Strategic Direction for sexual assault and abuse services. Lifelong Care for Victims and Survivors 2018-2023

2. Overview of the Worldwide best practices for rape prevention assisting women victims of rape.

2. cleo Lake  201  wc

'Partners with a stake in the Criminal Justice System, police and the CPS are engaging in a cross-Government review assessing the full criminal justice process experienced by rape victims with the aim of understanding what’s going wrong in the criminal justice system and to improve outcomes.'  This is the message being given locally and presumably nationally. 

I also know that in Avon and Somerset police force for example, all officers involved in investigating offences of rape or serious sexual assault have undergone substantial training to ensure they provide victims with the best possible service. This is an important aspect.  'Women need confidence that they will be treated as victims. Many of the organisations which provide such functions are charities and it’s essential they too have the backing they need. The support they provide to victims to help, heal and recover is, quite simply, priceless. And if we’re truly going to improve confidence in the criminal justice system then they are certainly best placed to help us understand the barriers some victims feel exist when it comes to engaging with police.' Avon and Somerset Deputy Chief Constable Sarah Crew is the National Police Chief’s Council lead for Rape and Serious Sexual Offences

2. sian Berry & jonathan bartley     215 wc

Confidence in the police and criminal justice system over rape and sexual violence is at a catastrophic low. Compounding the same squeeze on resources and support services as we have seen in domestic violence, criminal justice in this area has suffered huge setbacks resulting from mishandled cases and struggles over the use and collection of digital evidence. With privacy campaigners, we have stood against the use of ‘digital strip searches’ that leave survivors of rape facing unconcionable intrusion into every aspect of their private lives by police and defence teams, and prosecutors have become incredibly cautious about proceeding in cases such that the phrase “decriminalisation of rape” is an appropriate description of the current situation. Now that new guidance to bring more proportion to evidence collection is coming through, we should see an improvement in technical terms, but the damage to people’s confidence to report rape and seek justice will take much longer to fix. Working with allies in organisations that support victims, women in the Green Party should campaign for the police and CPS to commit to a superlative level of work to fix this, in addition to making sure that victims’ statutory support and wider support services are boosted with the resources to create a massive step change in proactive and practical support.

 

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