This is the joint website of  Women Against Rape and Black Women's Rape Action Project. Both organisations are based on self-help and provide support, legal information and advocacy. We campaign for justice and protection for all women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual, domestic and/or racist violence.

WAR was founded in 1976. It has won changes in the law, such as making rape in marriage a crime, set legal precedents and achieved compensation for many women. BWRAP was founded in 1991. It focuses on getting justice for women of colour, bringing out the particular discrimination they face. It has prevented the deportation of many rape survivors. Both organisations are multiracial.

 

 

 

Press release: Without Consent report on police & CPS, 07

Press release – about Without Consent – published Jan 07

Her Majesty’s Inspectors have again produced a scathing report about the scandalous refusal of the police and CPS to act against rape.

As a grassroots women’s group taking calls from rape victims daily we contributed to their last report, in 2002. Since then, laws have been passed, guidelines have been issued, much publicity has been generated – and the conviction rate for reported rape has continued to fall.

The HMIC/HMCPSI report confirms what rape survivors know: the law is not being implemented. Instead it is comprehensively bypassed by the people in charge of applying it, yet they face no consequences. Rape survivors have watched the police officers and prosecutors, who hold justice and their futures in their hands, disbelieve them, lose or ignore evidence, misinterpret facts, “no-crime” the rape they have suffered, without being sacked, or even disciplined – in fact they are often promoted. Police officers are free to be what the report calls “subjective”, and “vulnerable to stereotyping”: in other words, sexist and prejudiced in other ways. Complaints lead nowhere (or worse) and there is no legal redress for the survivor against negligence, incompetence and prejudice on the part of the police, CPS and judges, which encourage and even pander to the prejudices of juries.

The report’s recommendations tell us what a disaster the criminal justice system is for rape victims. Why do the police and CPS have to be told:

* – that they should communicate with each other?
* – that first response officers should be given training and guidelines?
* – that “early evidence kits” for forensic samples should be used and not left on the shelf?
* – that good records should be kept throughout an investigation and prosecution?
* – that prosecuting counsel should speak to the police who know the case before dropping or downgrading charges?
* – that the CPS’s key Special rape co-ordinators and Specialist Prosecutors should be people with some experience of dealing with rape?

If those outside of these institutions have to tell those inside things this basic, there is no interest in dealing with rapists from the top down, and women haven’t a hope of getting justice.

Until and unless those responsible are held to account, the report’s recommendations, for yet more monitoring, monitoring of the monitors, yet more training of personnel in the police and CPS who are already supposed to be “specialists”, yet more fine tuning of the law, will go the way of all the recommendations made before.

The government does not fund anti-rape campaigning, and cut the funding of Women Against Rape for being too outspoken in pressing for change. Instead it funds research which keeps telling the same story but changing nothing for the better – a tragedy for many women and girls and for their families. Yet, like the rapist, the government pleads innocence and good intentions; like the rapist when caught, they don’t feel guilty, just unlucky. Meanwhile, they are moving against women: considering removing the right to anonymity for women reporting rape – one of the very few protections we had almost been able to count on. Already women are being sent to prison for alleged false accusations.

Women Against Rape: Tel 020 7482 2496 Email war@womenagainstrape.net --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A few examples from the report:

POLICE:

* p. 42, 3.16 One hundred and seventy-nine reports of rape were recorded as 'no-crime' - 23.8%.
* p.62 5.11 “First response officers are often unaware of how to approach taking an initial account from a victim and this is constraining effectiveness. Awareness of ACPO guidance was found to be limited.”
* p.65, 6.7 “. . .examples were found where inconsistencies or ambiguities within the victim’s statement had not been fully addressed and this had undermined the victim’s credibility at a later stage in the investigation.”
* Police approach to victims is too “subjective” and“vulnerable to stereotyping” – in other words, prejudiced.
* p.65 6.25 "Bad character evidence" of the accused - Police were poor at providing details of previous behaviour and convictions.
* p.88, 7.22 Women forensic examiners are not readily available, and many victims face delays of 4 hours to 3 days before being examined.

CPS:

Over half of all rapes were dropped on advice from the CPS, including where they had misinterpreted medical evidence, such as equating lack of injuries with consent. (7.28 and 7.29)

The CPS specialist rape prosecutors and co-ordinators are found to be incompetent, untrained, inexperienced and overloaded. This was the flagship policy the CPS has promoted as the main answer to public outrage about falling conviction rates.

* p.94 8.5 “There was no minimum standard of competence for the co-ordinator role . . . (nor indeed … for the rape specialist) . . . people have been appointed who had little interest in the performance management aspects of the work . . .”
* Some had dealt regularly with rape cases; others, although experienced lawyers, had worked only in the magistrates’ courts for a number of years and had not been allocated a rape case in that time.”
* p.90 7.28 Prosecutors made decisions without having received medical evidence they requested. Medical evidence is accepted at face value where further explanation was required.
* 7.29 They used lack of injuries as justification for not proceeding.

Women Against Rape

 

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