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October 28, 2020 8:34 PM

Kate Smith

Our Police are still not treating rape allegations anywhere near seriously enough, says the Liberal Democrat challenger in the May 2021 Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner election.

Cllr Kate Smith says that it's unacceptable that there is still under-reporting, under-prosecution and under-sentencing in these very serious offences, which are the subject of the latest Review by Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims' Commissioner for England (published on 20 October 2020).

Among the stark results, only 14 % of respondents thought they would be believed, survivors frequently feel re-traumatised by the criminal justice system and there is a perceived bias in favour of the rights of perpetrators and against those of victims.

"There are major lessons in this excellent Review for both Police Forces and the Crown Prosecution Service", says Cllr Kate Smith. "Some of the interviewing approaches by police officers at first report are unsupportive, influenced by unjustified myths and even dismissive. Lawyers' attitudes are also variously described as 'arrogant' and 'this is no way to treat a victim'. No wonder so many survivors don't report, or withdraw from the Criminal Justice process."

On top of that, Baird's Review states that a lot of rape victims had their mobile phones - so often a lifeline - removed, then waited months for them to be returned. Many survivors - extremely vulnerable to further attack - received no substitute phone. "The latest PEEL Report on Derbyshire Police's performance suggests these issues have to be taken seriously", says Kate. Dame Vera's own, national, conclusion is that the planned Home Office end-to-end Review "must produce radical cultural transformation" in treatment of these complainants across the Criminal Justice system.


(1) There are other concerns, and some centre on the use of evidence. A report by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in early 2020 found Police practices around extraction of mobile phone data in investigations "risk negatively affecting public confidence in the Criminal Justice system".

(2) The Baird Review highlights areas where re-training is needed, including understanding honour-based sexual violence, survivor trauma, coercive control, partner assault and post-separation abuse.

(3) For further information contact katesmithlibdem@gmail.com .