The Home Affairs report into investigation and prosecution of rape report recently released reflects what Survive has witnessed in counselling clients:
· Too much focus on the behaviours of survivors and not to the behaviours of perpetrators;
· Survivors often face unnecessary and disproportionate requests for digital data; and
· Long delays in getting cases to court with the court proceedings potentially leading to further harm for the survivors.
Prosecutions for rape must increase to hold perpetrators to account and reduce the risk of further offending. As highlighted in the report, it is simply not good enough that we see a return to the prosecution levels last seen in 2016/17 – given how woeful we regarded those figures.
Investment in Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) to support survivors through court proceedings is only part of the solution. Unfortunately, the rules around pre-trial therapy mean that survivors often have to choose between the courts and a slim chance of justice or counselling and a real prospect of rebuilding their lives. We need to ensure that survivors have access to the right support at the right time.