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“Rape victims will get more time to decide on pressing charges”

“Rape victims will get more time to decide on pressing charges”

Friday 30 January 2015

“Rape victims will get more time to decide on pressing charges”

Friday 30 January 2015

A major drive to secure more rape convictions will include a new service allowing victims some “breathing space” before deciding whether or not to press charges through the police.

At the moment, if a rape survivor does not go straight to the police to report the crime and be physically examined, then the opportunity to take forensic samples is lost, and a conviction becomes much more unlikely. The new Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) will allow samples to be taken independently of the police and stored so that victims can take their time to make the decision about whether or not to make a criminal complaint.

Speaking the day after Jersey Action Against Rape was launched by rape survivor Cassidy McIntosh – who donated part of her court settlement from the man who raped her to establish the group to support survivors of sexual assault  - Detective Chief Inspector Alison Fossey said that the police had a plan to improve conviction rates.

She said figures suggested that around 164 women in Jersey were raped every year, but the police only received between ten and 20 complaints – but she hoped that the SARC would increase the number of complaints coming through.

Det Chief Insp Fossey said: “At the moment the way it works is if you don’t come to the police immediately, the chances of a successful prosecution diminish because straight away we are not getting forensic samples. Yes, we have success with historic cases but it makes it that bit more difficult if we don’t have those forensics.

“For me it’s about providing victims of rape not only with the right to criminal justice but also the right to social justice, by that I mean the right to access services regardless of whether you go to the police or not.

“It gives victims time to get advice, counselling and support and come to terms in some small way with what is happening.”

Other elements of the action plan to improve rape convictions include a quarterly review of decisions not to prosecute accused rapists joining together police and prosecutors, and training sessions for officers who investigate sex crimes. There may also be a review of sexual offences laws – unlike the UK, sex crimes in Jersey are largely covered by case law not by legislation, and the law here has fallen behind the law in the UK.

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