Following the End to End rape review published 2 years ago, significant work is underway to ensure rape victims are better supported. Monday 10 July, a progress report was released showing the government having already met 2-3 key ambitions in the Rape Review – delivered ahead of schedule.
This announcement comes ahead of all 43 police forces across England and Wales, and all rape prosecutors cross the country, implementing a new approach to handling rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO), ensuring investigations are thorough, putting the suspect at the centre and the needs of the victim first.
Make sure you check out techUK’s Impact Days where we explored tech’s role in tackling VAWG and RASSO. Collating thinking from our members, policymakers, Policing and technical specialists within the CJS.
Piloted in 19 police forces and 9 Crown Prosecution Areas already, the programme brings together police forces with academics, using evidence and new insight to enable forces and prosecutors to transform their response to rape and serious sexual offences. Already, we are seeing signs of improvements across forces and CPS areas with all five pathfinder forces having seen an increase in the number of cases being referred to the CPS.
Further improving the response to rape, 2,000 extra police investigators will be specially trained in RASSO by April 2024. It will also be compulsory for new recruits to undertake RASSO training, which will include all existing first responders.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk KC, said:
“Rape and sexual violence are horrific crimes that can impact victims for the rest of their lives. That’s why we launched an action plan in the 2021 Rape Review to drive up prosecutions.
We’ve made significant progress, hitting two of our Rape Review ambitions ahead of schedule, and there are more rape cases before the courts today than in 2010.
Now we are going further, extending our action plan with more support for victims, encouraging survivors to come forward and see justice done”.
National Operating Model
To further support victims, pioneering CPS areas, police forces and leading academics have developed a new National Operating Model for the investigation of rape and serious sexual offences, and all police forces and prosecutors in England and Wales have committed to implementing it from 10 July 2023.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), Home Office and College of Policing Unit will oversee the implementation of the national model with a consultation involving police leaders on how effective dedicated rape investigation units across all police forces will be.
With over 150 published rape review actions, there are only 10 outstanding which includes:
These actions include:
- Giving more victims the option to hear their attacker being sentenced away from a courtroom – avoiding seeing their attacker face-to-face. This brings sentencing in line with measures already brought in which allow victims to provide evidence remotely
- Recommissioning the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Fund (RASASF) providing £21 million over 2023/24 to specialist support services for rape and sexual abuse victims across England and Wales, helping them cope and move forward with their lives
- The Home Secretary has commissioned His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to carry out a thematic inspection of forces’ implementation of the Soteria Model, and will produce a report with findings in due course
- Publishing a step-by-step guide for frontline investigators on conducting suspect-focused investigations and toolkits to ensure victims’ needs and rights are central to all investigations
Emily Hunt, survivor and independent advisor to the government on the Rape Review, said:
“Two years on from the Rape Review, it is amazing to see what the beginning of success looks like.
Fundamentally, now more rapists are going to prison and victims are being better supported. But it is not the time to stop – it is time to double down and really consider what we should be doing to build on these successes.
Since the Rape Review was published the government have taken a number of steps to provide better support for rape victims including”:
- Launching a 24/7 Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Line so victims can speak to trained specialists whenever they need
- Quadrupling funding for victim support services by 2025 compared to 2010 levels
- Stopping unnecessary and intrusive requests for victims’ phones through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act and introducing new legislation through the Victims and Prisoners Bill so that therapy notes or other personal records are only accessed when necessary and proportionate to an investigation
- Providing Police and Crime Commissioners with dedicated ring-fenced funding for at least 900 Independent Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse Advisors and will fund an additional 100 – bringing the total to over 1000 by 2025.
- Driving down Crown Court backlogs so cases can be heard faster, lifting the cap on the number of days courts can sit, and recruiting 1,000 more judges
Much of this work is being explored via techUK’s VAWG and RASSO Tech Working Group. You can find out more here.
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