Survey of survivors who have reported rape to the Metropolitan Police Service – Victim’s Commissioner for London and Mayor’s office for Policing and Crime

Please share our survey as widely as possible. It’s critical we hear from rape victims & survivors who have reported to @metpoliceuk & were asked to share personal technology such as mobile phone data https://twitter.com/LDNVictimsComm/status/1318183440097923074

Your Voice Matters

The Victim’s Commissioner for London, Claire Waxman, together with the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) is undertaking research to better understand the progression of rape cases through the criminal justice system, and the role and impact of requests for victim technology (such as phones). As part of this work, we would very much like to hear about the views and experiences of survivors who have reported rape to the Metropolitan Police Service – regardless of whether you have been asked for your phone or other technology as part of the investigation or not.

No personal details will be attached to your responses, and unless you enter identifiable information in your responses, they will be completely anonymous.

If relevant to you please complete the survey at https://londonvoice.org.uk/web/index.php/365383?lang=en

October 22, 2020

Government failing child victims of trafficking – ECPAT UK

The government is failing in its treatment of child victims of trafficking in a hostile immigration system, according to shocking new data obtained by ECPAT UK under the Freedom of Information Act ahead of the 10 year anniversary of the UK’s Anti-Slavery Day.

The data shows that 4,695 adults and children subject to immigration control were confirmed as victims of trafficking in the four-year period of 2016-2019. However just 28 child victims were granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK.

The Home Office failed to reveal how many of the 4,695 victims were children, but annual statistics on referrals into the National Referral Mechanism – the UK’s system for identifying victims of trafficking –  show that in these four years, children comprised nearly half of all people identified as potential victims.

Child victims of trafficking who have been confirmed as victims by the National Referral Mechanism may be granted discretionary leave outside of the UK’s immigration rules, in recognition of their specific needs and vulnerabilities.

In these cases, the Home Office should automatically consider a grant of discretionary leave in line with children’s rights under domestic and international law. Additionally, the period of leave should be long enough to provide each child with a ‘durable solution’ – a long term outcome in line with their best interests.

However, the FOI data showed the vast majority of both adult and child victims are only granted discretionary leave for periods of up to 12 months. For children, such a short grant of leave is rarely in their best interests as it does not provide the stability they need to stay safe and recover from the trauma and abuse they have experienced.

Furthermore, the FOI data showed that of the total number of victims of trafficking granted asylum and humanitarian protection, children were underrepresented; comprising just 20.7% of those granted asylum and 29% of those granted humanitarian protection.

The data does not provide information on the number of young victims of trafficking granted ‘UASC’ leave as unaccompanied children seeking asylum, which lasts two years or until a young person turns 17-and-a-half; whichever period is shorter.

However from our direct work with trafficked young people we know that many are granted this form of leave as a ‘stop gap’ measure which leaves them in constant anxiety as to their futures, and is highly unsuitable due to the specific need for stability among those who have suffered substantial trauma.

It is well established that immigration insecurity is a significant driver of trafficked and unaccompanied young people going missing from care, which can indicate they are being (re)trafficked.

Part of a longer press release at https://www.ecpat.org.uk/news/government-failing-child-victims-of-trafficking-exclusive-data-reveals

See also:

October 22, 2020

Safe Homes For Women Leaving Prison – St Martin in the Fields, London Prisons Mission and Prison Reform Trust

Nearly six out of ten women leaving prison have nowhere safe to go.

Many women are released with just £46, a plastic bag, nowhere to live and threat of recall if they miss their probation appointment.

In so many ways the consequences are catastrophic for the womenconcerned, their families and for society.

Between 2019 and 2020, 65% of men and womenreleased from prison without settled accommodation hadreoffendedaccording to an HMI Probation report.

Lack of secure housing is a significant barrier to successful rehabilitation. This makes securing employment, maintaining positive mental health and preventing a return to harmful behaviour such as substance abuse practically unachievable.

Many women in contact with the criminal justice system have complex needs resulting from past trauma, abuse, poverty and addiction and are unable to return to their former accommodation as this would put them immediately at risk.

The current situation is bleak. However, it does not need to be this way.

The Safe Homes for Women Leaving Prison initiative, a unique collaboration of London Prisons Mission, Prison Reform Trust, the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields and HMP & YOI Bronzefield has set out a number of vital recommendations for reform.

Why are so many women prisoners released into homelessness?

The 2017 Homelessness Reduction Act gives prisons a ‘duty to refer’ anyone at risk of homelessness on release to their local authority.

However, the report finds the Act is failing. Reasons include:

  • Too many short prison sentences that result in women losing their accommodation
  • Many women need to be rehoused with their children as they are often a primary carer
  • The need for many women to relocate due to domestic abuse
  • A chronic lack of suitable social housing, including for women with complex needs
  • Many women are imprisoned farfrom their previous address so lose their ‘local connection’.

Key recommendations

The recommendations in the report are the result of extensive consultation with policy makers and local authority representatives; service providers; housing experts; charities andvoluntary organisations; and women with lived experience of the criminal justice system. They include:

  • A national cross-government strategy to address the housing needs of those in the criminal justice system, including specific measures for women
  • A review of the ‘duty to refer’ measure
  • An agreed target time period for women to be in settled accommodation post release
  • Designating responsibility for arranging a woman’s accommodation on release from prison
  • Increasing the prison discharge grant to £80, the level provided as part of the End of Custody Temporary Release scheme implemented in response to Covid-19.

Conclusion

The link between access to safe and secure accommodation and reducing the vulnerability of women released from prison as well as their risk of reoffending is undeniable.

It is vital to the welfare of thousands of women released from prison each year.

The most pressing need is for a national strategy with adequate resources and joined up working between central and local government to ensurethe provision of Safe Homes for women leaving prison.

Read more at http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Women/Safe%20Homes%20Initiative%20briefing%20FINAL.pdf

October 22, 2020

18 January 2021 ~ Consultation on rape and sexual offences legal guidance – CPS – closing date

As part of the CPS work on Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) under our five-year strategy, we made a commitment to launch a consultation on our updated rape legal guidance this autumn.

Our legal guidance is an important aspect of our work and provides support to our prosecutors to make effective Code compliant decisions in RASSO cases helping to ensure the delivery of justice.

The updated legal guidance reflects the changing world and our improved understanding of the many complex issues related to rape. Many of the revisions have been informed by the expert insight of stakeholders. The revised guidance also features updated content around reasonable lines of enquiry and disclosure which aims to assist prosecutors with striking the appropriate balance between the needs of an investigation and the right to privacy.

The updated guidance continues to refer to the ‘Protocol between the police service and CPS in the investigation and prosecution of rape’. This Protocol dates back to 2015 and, as part of our work with the police under the RASSO Joint Action Plan, will be updated to reflect recent developments in practice.

Please note that references within the guidance to the 2012 Rape Policy have been removed. This has not impacted upon the commitments made within this document but reflects the fact that we will shortly commence work on developing an updated version of this policy document.

Consultation content

The consultation seeks your views on the following questions.

Chapter 2: Applying the Code for Crown Prosecutors to Rape and Serious Sexual Offences

  1. Do you think that the new guidance in this section in relation to the principles to consider when applying the evidential test will assist prosecutors in arriving at Code compliant charging decisions in RASSO cases?
  2. Is the new content around the impact of trauma including the linked online trauma training video accurate and comprehensive?

Chapter 3: Case Building

  1. Will the updated content within Chapter 3 covering reasonable lines of enquiry and disclosure covered at Sections D, E and F assist prosecutors with balancing the needs of the investigation and the right to privacy?

Chapter 4: Rape myths

  1. Is the revised content on ‘rape myths and stereotypes’ accurate and comprehensive and do you think it will assist prosecutors in making decisions which are not clouded by myths or stereotypes?
  2. Does the revised content adequately cover the development of rape myths in the digital age?
  3. Does the revised content clearly highlight the tools available to prosecutors and advocates when challenging rape myths?

Chapter 5: Issues relevant to particular groups of people

  1. In Chapter 5, ‘Issues relevant to particular groups of people’, is the content covering ‘pre-existing mental illness and potential psychological reactions to sexual abuse’ including the linked ‘psychological evidence toolkit for prosecutors’ accurate and comprehensive?
  2. Is the content of the ‘same sex sexual violence toolkit’ accurate and comprehensive?
  3. Is the content in relation to additional parts of this chapter accurate and comprehensive?

General

  1. Do you have any other feedback you wish to share around how the revised guidance could be improved?

How to Respond

It would be helpful if you could give your feedback using our online form (see below) for ease of analysis.

You can also download a response form, complete it, and return it to RASSOLGconsultation@cps.gov.uk by midnight on 18th January 2021.

For full details and information in Welsh go to https://www.cps.gov.uk/consultation/consultation-rape-and-sexual-offences-legal-guidance

 

October 20, 2020

Survey finds rape victims have lost faith in the justice system – Victims’ Commissioner

“This survey of rape survivors tells us that not only are they denied justice, but they feel actively re-victimised by the criminal justice system. If survivors of this deeply damaging and highly prevalent crime are to feel “…the state is on their side” the government’s end to end rape review must produce radical cultural transformation across the criminal justice system.”  Dame Vera Baird QC

A survey of nearly 500 survivors of rape, undertaken by the Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, has highlighted just 14% believed they would receive justice by reporting the crime to the police.

This comes at a time when reports to police about rape have increased hugely but cases charged by CPS have dropped markedly. In 2019/20 there were 55,000 reports of rape to the police, but only 1,867 cases charged. In addition, the proportion of victims who chose to withdraw their support for their case has steadily increased (from 25% in 2015/16 to 41% in 2019/20).

In response to the fall in rape prosecutions, in 2019, the government launched an End to End Review of how rape is dealt with in the criminal justice system.

Dame Vera says:

“The government’s Review’s team took the surprising decision not to seek the views of those who really matter – rape survivors. As Victims Commissioner, I believed it was imperative that the victims’ voice be heard. We placed a questionnaire on our website and were overwhelmed by the response – nearly 500 survivors took part and shared their experience of the justice system with us.

“On every page of this report, the victims’ voice can be heard loud and clear and the findings speak for themselves.”

The survivors told us:

  • Being believed is one of the most important things to survivors, but many feel their credibility is tested through each stage of the criminal justice process
  • Many survivors experienced poor treatment from individual criminal justice practitioners
  • Survivors had serious concerns about the use of digital disclosure requests and how they felt that their privacy had been violated
  • Prompt, proactive communication is very important to survivors, though many told us they had to chase for updates
  • Survivors highly value the support given by victims’ services and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors
  • Decisions to take no further action and not to prosecute can have devastating effects on survivors and it often appears to them that good evidence has not been considered and the reasons for discontinuing are insufficient.
  • Survivors gave various reasons for not taking further action and withdrawing their rape complaints, such as fears of the criminal justice process and wanting to move on
  • Survivors’ experience of the courtroom and rape trials is traumatic, they often feel isolated and attacked in the courtroom
  • Survivors want to be treated sensitively, fairly, respectfully, to be believed, but also for criminal justice system professionals to better understand trauma, provide clear and timely information, and to offer better access to ISVA and support services
  • Rape survivors have low levels of confidence in the criminal justice system’s handling of rape complaints

Dame Vera says:

“Page after page of this report, you will see the powerful first-hand testimony of rape survivors and their experience of our criminal justice system. And it does not make comfortable reading.

“Survivors want to be treated sensitively, fairly, respectfully, to be believed, but also for criminal justice system professionals to better understand trauma, provide clear and timely information, and to offer better access to support services. And on all of these fronts, the justice system has been found wanting.

“We already knew the number of rape complaints resulting in a charge was at a record low. We were aware the proportion of rape complainants withdrawing their support for a prosecution was at an all-time high.

“It should therefore come as no surprise to find that only around one in seven rape survivors tell us they have any hope of receiving justice.

“This survey and the voices behind it reveal the extent of the crisis within our justice system.”

Editor’s notes

  • These findings are based on a survey of rape survivors completed between 12 June and 24 July 2020.
  • We received 491 responses.
  • The survey looked specifically at survivors’ experience of the criminal justice system.
  • It was open to anyone who had been raped at any time, irrespective of whether they reported or not (for those who didn’t report, questions explored the reasons for this).
  • Those whose cases were still in the system were asked only about their attitudes towards the criminal justice system.
  • The survey does not claim to be representative of all rape survivors and we know that there were some biases in the sample: for example, compared to published statistics, the sample included a relatively high proportion of survivors whose cases came to court, and a low proportion who withdrew their support for the investigation or prosecution.

https://victimscommissioner.org.uk/news/survey-finds-rape-victims-have-lost-faith-in-the-justice-system/

 

October 20, 2020