Response to the Government’s rape review

We welcome the Government’s Rape Review, in particular it’s apology for failing those victims of rape who have been let down by the system, but agree with the Victims Commissioner, Rape Crisis England and Wales, End Violence Against Women and others that a more comprehensive strategy is required to tackle this crisis. In particular the lack of urgency in rolling out pre-recording of video evidence of intimidated witnesses (Section 28) and the provision of independent legal advice for those victims who are impacted by digital disclosure requests is disappointing.

We also welcome the commitment to consult on a statutory underpinning for the Isva role as part of the forthcoming Victims’ Bill consultation and hope the same will apply to Idvas. Our Insights data shows that 26% of the clients supported by Idvas had experienced sexual abuse in the year before accessing an Idva service, 32% of that abuse was rape. The safety planning an Idva undertakes alongside multi-agency partners is proven to reduce sexual abuse with 91% of victims who had experienced sexual abuse seeing a reduction in that abuse following Idva support.

The £27m two-year funding granted by the Ministry of Justice for an increase in Idvas and Isvas will help to boost their numbers, but in the absence of a comprehensive financial settlement, insecurity for frontline community-based services will remain which is negatively impacting on their ability to recruit and retain high quality professionals. We urge Ministers to ensure this year’s Spending Review creates a long-term fund for the provision of these crucial victim support services.

Finally, the Government has a real opportunity to underline its commitment to tackling rape as the serious violent crime it is by including it in its definition of serious violence in the new duty being debated as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Leaving rape and domestic abuse outside of the definition could take us backwards, signalling that only ‘street’ based crimes are considered serious by the state. We hope Ministers will look positively on its inclusion as the Bill moves into its new stages.

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