End to End Rape Review and Support for Victims of Sexual Violence
Alison Hernandez, Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner provided an update to the panel and highlighted the following key points:
The Government had apologised for poor performance with regards to rape convictions and more must be done.
The report showed £2.1 million commissioning for sexual violence support services this year through a combination of local funding, Ministry of Justice funding and money from the government. When combined through the OPCC’s investments on domestic abuse services and government funding on Safer Streets a total of £3.9 million a year had been invested to tackle sexual violence and domestic abuse as well as supporting victims of those crimes.
The government’s own review showed a sharp decrease in prosecutions nationally since 2016/17. The national estimate was that 1.8% of the population aged 16 to 74 were victims of rape or sexual assault in 2019-20. The peninsula’s strategic needs assessment equated this to 23,400 victims within Devon and Cornwall; 18,000 women and 4,600 men. Reported rapes in Devon and Cornwall had increased, although the Office for National Statistics considered this to be an increase in reporting rather than an increase in prevalence.
The Commissioner advised that she was committed to ensuring the right actions were taking place in Devon and Cornwall and to work on preventing future offences occurring.
The South West Forensics team had been given a new mobile unit which would enable the team to travel to victims to inspect digital devices.
The Commissioner highlighted that the Panel are able to scrutinise her in respect of the strategic direction, influence of partners, robustly holding the Chief Constable to account for Police performance and the commissioning of high quality of support for victims.
The Commissioner highlighted to Panel members that Devon and Cornwall is the only Police force outside of the force in London that has a 10 year contract for victim support. This would provide stability and clarity for victims in Devon and Cornwall.
The figure of 23,400 victims is not wholly correct and that at least 50% of cases go unreported. The Panel would want an update every six months following on from the government’s commitment to publishing their update every six months on their review.
The need for more perpetrator programmes to tackle prevention of further incidents occurring;
The requirement to bring down the median wait time of 114 days for victims waiting for therapy as a result of rape and sexual abuse. The Chair, Councillor Croad requested a KPI on this in order to monitor the progress of reducing the wait time;
Victims can refer themselves online to Sexual assault referral centres and would be forensically examined right away without having to report the incident to Police. Victims would have access to independent sexual advisors through the process. If a victim was an historic reporter they would be able to go to a SARC and receive support from the independent sexual advisors.
It was recognised that due to the critical importance of this area that services did not duplicate work and collaboration where possible should be sought;
The Commissioner suggested to the Panel that they could be invited to a SARC to see and understand the facilities and services. It was misrepresented that the centres are unwelcoming places for victims and it would be helpful to replace this with an accurate representation that they are welcoming places;
The government conducted a national survey last year in which victims of sexual offences were asked of their lived experiences. The results had not been published for the Commissioner to report to Panel members.
The Panel noted the report.
- End to Rape Review and Support for Victims of Sexual Violence - Panel - 12 November 2021, item 69. PDF 223 KB