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Victims deserve better

Sue-Mountstevens-20.05.19---84

Since becoming PCC in 2012, putting victims first, especially domestic abuse and sexual violence survivors, has always been a priority. I am very concerned about the drop in rape convictions falling to an all-time low and the fact that 1,500 fewer rapists have been convicted compared to three years ago is disappointing. Victims deserve better and the system has to change.

We must not let sexually violent perpetrators think they will not be prosecuted. Rape is an abhorrent crime. We owe victims the opportunity of closure to help them on their recovery journey, and one way this can be achieved is by taking their offender or offenders to court.

Officers are facing a huge amount of pressure to achieve the standard of evidence needed to get a case to court. This high evidential threshold increases the length of time taken to reach the point of charge, which further impacts the victim and their families.

In some cases, the policy is leaving thousands of rape victims, survivors and their families without the chance of justice, without the chance of moving forward and without the chance of recovering from the trauma of this crime.

Another challenge we face is how police officers maintain the confidence of victims so they do not withdraw their support for the investigation. While there have been improvements made in recent years, there is still plenty more to be done to ensure victims who come forward are supported from the very beginning of the process, including: reducing the length of time investigations take; exploring how officers engage with victims; and how, when dealing with mobile phones, the victim’s right to privacy is protected while balancing the alleged offender’s right to a fair trial.

Ultimately, individuals join the police, CPS and other organisations in the CJS to help as many victims possible; we all need to be working together to secure justice for them. I am supportive of the CPS’s new five year strategy to tackle these falling rape convictions including a joint CPS and Police Action Plan that is currently under development. I believe such actions are steps in the right direction to rebuild specialist knowledge, skills and confidence as well as enabling the police and CPS to become ‘one prosecution team’ again to successfully support victims.

Yesterday’s sentencing of grime artist Andy Anokye, who filmed himself as he tortured and raped a number of women, shows that offenders can be brought to justice even in the most complex cases. I commend the courageous women who came forward and shared their traumatic experience, and I do hope this case gives other victims confidence and reassurance to speak out. You will be listened to, you will be taken seriously and I know officers will do everything they can to secure a prosecution.

Posted on Friday 31st July 2020
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