Victims Commissioner research: Survey finds rape victims have lost faith in the justice system

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

The survivors’ responses to the survey indicated that:

  • 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

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