Hampshire crime commissioner pledges changes to get rape victims justice after government report admits ‘unacceptable’ failings in system

CRIME commissioner Donna Jones had pledged to get rape victims ‘the justice they deserve’ after a report highlighted a downward trend in bringing sexual offenders to justice.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:55 am

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight said she was ‘seriously concerned’ about the findings of the Government's Rape Review report.

Donna Jones said: ‘Victims of rape are being let down by the criminal justice system for too long.

‘I am seriously concerned about the drop in rape cases leading to charge and convictions.

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Donna Jones. Picture: Fiona Callingham

‘The government’s Rape Review report outlines the transformational change that is required at a national and local level.

‘I am committed to working with partners across the local criminal justice system in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to embed the change required to ensure better outcomes for victims of rape and sexual assault.’

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The government apologised for ‘failing’ rape victims over years of plunging conviction levels as it set out plans for a ‘system and culture change’ which will include focusing more on the behaviour of the suspect than the accuser.

The review, which was commissioned more than two years ago, said: ‘The current situation is totally unacceptable and the government is determined to change it: we owe this to every victim and are extremely sorry that the system has reached this point.’

Donna added: ‘I have already had discussions with the Chief Constable regarding better outcomes of sexual assault and rape.

‘I have joined the Local Criminal Justice Board to ensure action is taken across the system to make the necessary improvements.

‘Victims need to have confidence and trust in the system from their first point of contact with the police, through the investigation, in the lead up to a court hearing and during that court process.

‘The support offered throughout this journey and beyond is important and I will continue to invest in the best support services, such as the Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs, which are highlighted in the report).

‘Locally work is already focussed on improving outcomes for victims of rape and the CPS are a central part of this improvement work.

‘I am collaborating with Police and Crime Commissioners in Dorset and Wiltshire to agree joint objectives and I will ensure a change for victims so they get the justice they deserve.’

The latest CPS figures for 2019-20 show 1,439 suspects were convicted of rape or lesser offences in England and Wales last year – the lowest level since records began, and down from 1,925 the previous year, despite reports of adult rape to police almost doubling since 2015-16.

There are an estimated 128,000 victims of rape and attempted rape a year, but only 1.6 per cent of reported cases results in a charge.

Summarising the report’s findings, justice secretary Robert Buckland QC, home secretary Priti Patel, and attorney general Michael Ellis QC wrote: ‘These are trends of which we are deeply ashamed. Victims of rape are being failed.

‘Our mission, set out in this publication, is to understand why we are letting down rape victims, and to right this wrong.’

The review comes a week after a damning Ofsted report which found sexual harassment had been ‘normalised’ in schools.

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