Police failing rape victims, says Bath MP

By Office of Wera Hobhouse, Jan 04, 2022 4:01

Bath MP Wera Hobhouse has led on a cross-party letter to the Home Secretary raising concerns over Claire Waxman’s recent report which found that nearly two-thirds of rape victims in London end up withdrawing their complaints within a month of going to the police. 

The report found that many victims are subject to ‘digital strip-searching’ which can and has resulted in the police using the victim’s data against them. Some victims didn’t receive their phone back for over 14 months. Moreover, the report found that most cases are withdrawn by victims due to stress, trauma, and the worry that they will be belittled or not believed by officers. 

Commenting on the issue, Wera said: 

“The report clearly shows that the police are failing rape victims. It takes huge strength and bravery to report a crime like rape and this failure simply breaks trust in the system and discourages victims to go to the police. Whilst this report shows the severity of the situation in London, this is a national problem that must be addressed with urgency. 

“Police and the justice system must protect survivors and support their cases. They can achieve this through better training and resources for the police, allowing survivors to be listened to, supported, and ensuring that criminals are punished.” 

The letter of the wording is below:

Dear Priti,

We are writing to you to express our concerns about the new statistics, revealed in Claire Waxman’s recent report on rape cases in London.

The report highlights that nearly two-thirds of rape victims in London end up withdrawing

their complaints within a month of going to the police. This is an increase of 7% from the last survey in London, conducted two years ago. While this Government continues to emphasise their work on increasing prosecution rates for cases of rape, it is clear by these statistics that many men and women are struggling to even press charges against their abusers.

These statistics showcase the treatment faced by men and women reporting cases of rape to the police. The report found that many victims are subject to ‘digital strip searching’, which can and has resulted in the police using the victim’s data against them in their case. Some victims even stated that they hadn’t received their phone or device back 14 months later.

Not only does this prevent rape convictions and prosecutions from being pursued by the

justice system, it invalidates and deters victims from coming forward and pressing charges against their abusers.

It takes an incredible amount of strength and bravery to report such a crime. Yet to be faced with such humiliating standards of investigation is extremely damaging. The report indicated that most cases are withdrawn due to stress, trauma and the worry that they will be belittled or not believed by officers working on their case. It cannot be disputed that rape is an extremely traumatising experience and that those reporting these crimes should be supported by law enforcement.

This issue is not exclusive to regions. While this report emphasizes the severity of the issue in London, it is clear that this is a national problem. As Dame Vera Baird outlines, almost two in five rape victims are withdrawing from the criminal justice process across England. 

Our criminal justice system is failing survivors. 

We urge the Government to do more for rape victims, by ensuring that both the police and the justice system protects survivors and supports their cases. This must include better training and resources for the police, so that survivors are listened to and supported, criminals are punished, and victims get the justice that they deserve.

Yours sincerely,

Member of Parliament for Bath

Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael MP
Wendy Chamberlain MP
Daisy Cooper MP
Rt Hon Sir Ed Davey MP
Tim Farron MP
Sarah Green MP
Christine Jardine MP
Layla Moran MP
Sarah Olney MP
Jamie Stone MP
Munira Wilson MP
Nadia Whittome MP
Liz Saville Roberts AS / MP
Sarah Champion MP 

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