Current police strategy 'effectively decriminalises rape' - victims' commissioner

7 December 2021, 16:32

By Seán Hickey

London's Independent Victims' Commissioner stresses the need for a 'complete overhaul' of how authorities deal with rape cases.

Claire Waxman stressed the need for "suspect focussed, offender centric system" for handling rape cases rather than "always looking at the victim".

She shared with Shelagh Fogarty that one of the major factors which alienates rape victims is the insistence on their phones being taken as evidence. She recommended that this should only happen unless"absolutely necessary".

Read more: Police 'belittle' rape victims with majority of allegations withdrawn in weeks - research

"It's a lot easier to look at the victim's credibility, their behaviour and analyse what's happening on their phone, really as a way to discredit them," Ms Waxman said.

"We hear about a lot of issues protecting the suspects phone but not the same thing around the victims."

Read more: Iain Dale addresses male rape and sexual assault: "This goes on more than you think"

Read more: A Victim Explains Why Education About Rape Needs More Than Logic

Ms Waxman said that the reason given by the police when victims pull out of investigations is because the victim "no longer supports" the investigation. She insisted that forces "really need to get to grips with" why victims pull out, notably by paying heed to her report.

When "all the focus is on the victim", the commissioner said, it creates an environment which discourages victims from coming forward in the future.

"I want to see some proper action."

"Rape survivors, not just in London, but nationally, are not getting justice and that's an incredibly dangerous place to be, you know, to effectively decriminalise rape, which is the situation we're at at the moment."

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