Inspection into Police and CPS calls for a criminal justice culture shift to deal with an epidemic of VAWG

Part One of the joint HMICFRS and HMCPSI inspection finds that the police and CPS need to fundamentally change their approach to working together on rape cases to build trust and secure justice. This follows an interim report of the HMICFRS Inspection which recommended immediate radical reform into how police engage with women and girls.

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Today (16 July) Part One of the joint HMCFRS and HMCPSI inspection into the police and CPS response to rape was published. Within the recommendations it stresses the need for a seamless approach between the police and CPS, the recording of victims’ protected characteristics and the need for police to work with local support agencies to provide bespoke wraparound support for victims.
We welcome these recommendations and the emphasis on the need for disaggregated data on victims. The Decriminalisation of Rape report outlined how women with intersecting identities experience different justice outcomes so criminal justice agencies must understand these differences in order to address them.
We also welcome the recommendation for bespoke, wraparound support for victims. This support must be independent and include specialist intersectional support from led “by and for” VAWG services.
The emphasis on reviewing governance relating to rape investigation is also welcome and the need to ensure leaders are accountable for rape justice was a key part of our Decriminalisation of Rape report.
The findings and recommendations echo much of last week’s HMICFRS interim report of an inspection looking into how effectively the police respond to violence against women and girls (VAWG).  It makes clear that the current system is failing to adequately tackle the epidemic of abuse we are seeing in society and called for an immediate and unequivocal commitment that the response to VAWG offences is an absolute priority for government, the criminal justice system, and public-sector partnerships. Also that the relentless pursuit and disruption of adult perpetrators is a national priority for the police, with structures and funding to make sure victims receive tailored and consistent support.
With the HMICFRS and HMCPSI now echoing what the VAWG sector has been saying for years about the experience of women and girls in the criminal justice system and the need for transformative change, we look forward to the forthcoming final reports from both inspections as to how this change will be brought about.
We hope that both will set out a strong focus on how to ensure survivors facing multiple forms of inequality and discrimination are treated equally in the response to VAWG. We also believe there needs to be commissioned research into what survivors and victims actually want from the criminal justice system, as well as research into the barriers to reporting and what works as interventions to prevent rape, including public attitudes campaigns.

Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) says:

The report from the Police and CPS inspectorates describes what we know, that “concerns about low conviction rates results in a more cautious approach to rape investigations and prosecutions than with other offences.” There is an unacceptable focus on victim credibility, which skews rape investigations and makes it extremely difficult for women to get justice.  
Urgent, radical action is needed. These recommendations speak to the need for transformation across the whole criminal justice system. Until and unless there is an overhaul of how women are treated and how seriously crimes against them are taken, it is hard to imagine how confidence in the system can improve.”

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