Lucy Allan MP has welcomed the Government's renewed focus on protecting victims of sexual crimes and domestic abuse. Announced by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, the reforms will allow victims of these crimes an easier path through the justice system, whilst seeking to minimise trauma and removing the emphasis on victims' sexual past - which has too often been used to undermine victims.
New measures to be introduced include:
- Longer sentences for sex crimes
- Nationwide rollout of pre-recorded evidence for victims of rape
- Police focus to be on the perpetrator, rather than victims', sexual past.
To support victims, the Government has also allocated extra funding for more Independent Sexual Violence Advisers and Independent Domestic Violence Advisers – to reduce the rate at which demoralised victims drop out of the criminal justice system. Often the emotional and psychological barriers in the justice system can be insurmountable for some victims, who may feel unable to continue with the trauma of prosecution proceedings.
Furthermore, the Government is also seeking to make changes in other areas to build on its commitment to women's safety, including domestic abuse cases.
The Government will shortly table an amendment which will change how the six-month time limit to commence a prosecution for common assault or battery involving domestic abuse is applied in England and Wales to run from the date of an offence being reported to the police through a formal witness statement or video recording given with a view to its use as evidence, rather than the date of the offence, subject to an overall limit of two years from the offence. This would give victims more time in which to seek justice given that domestic abuse is often reported late relative to other crimes, but with a two-year backstop to prevent the police from being inundated with historical reports.
The Law Commission is currently conducting a wider review of the law on taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent, including photography of breastfeeding; the Justice Secretary will consider the recommendations of the Law Commission’s review when they are published and any further changes to criminal offences in this area which may be needed to further protect victims.
Lucy Allan MP said:
"In the context of CSE victims in Telford, who have too often been maligned by the authorities, these reforms could not be more welcome.
Too often we have seen victims ignored misunderstood by the justice system, and having to face huge barriers to the reporting their traumatic experiences, often against real institutional resistance.
It has sadly been the case that too many victims were not believed and faced institutional barriers to justice. These reforms are a step towards a fairer and more compassionate victim-led justice system.
Wearing a white ribbon to support victims is not enough. It is important that leaders walk the talk."