Rape Reform

During the last six months we have witnessed massive changes proposed toward the authorities over the handling of rape cases. The ‘End to End’ rape review was published, putting forward substantial reform to the approach to sexual violence by the Police and CPS. Sarah Everand, the abduction, rape and murder of this blameless woman by a serving Police Officer saw convulses of dismay and colosal out pourings of grief. As a response, mass protests against violence towards women took place throughout the Nation. The most momentous was in Clapham Common, London, near to where Sarah was seized. Afresh, we encountered merciless treatment of the peaceful protestors by the Metropolitan Police. 

Are the reforms proposed being acted upon?

Are the Police force being monitored effectively?

Are women safe at the hands of the law?

The ‘End to End’ Rape review was published for public viewing in June of this year. The report proffers copious proposals, noatably; the figures for rape cases being prosecuted in court, return to the levels of 2016. Progress around survivor engagement and the timeliness of the procedure at all phases. Safeguarding more convoluted cases, ensuring they are not being forsaken due to the feasibility of a conviction. Cases steeped in merit to be referred to the CPS by the Police and the necessity to upturn public assurance of resolutions given by the prosecuting agency. An escalation of early guilty pleas culminating in reduced trauma for survivors. The level of trauma for court proceedings for a survivor surpasses that of the initiatory violation. Curbs on requests for information, mainly digital, to be limited to what is reasonable. Moves away from what was dubbed the ‘Digital strip search’ and further analysis of how the report eminently criticized the Police for focussing investigations on the survivor, contrary to the perpetrator.

The abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, in spring of thid year has marked a key junction in campaigning for the end of violence towards women. Sarah, a thirty-three year old female, disappeared while walking home through Clapham after spending an evening with friends. Her bludgeoned corpse was located a week later in woodland in Kent. A forty-eight year old serving Police Officer: Wayne Couzens, was arrested, charged and has subsequently submitted a guilty plea in court. Questions were asked as to why he was employed as a Police Officer. His nickname was ‘The Rapist’ and he has been suspected of indecent exposure on three occasions. 

On the evening of Saturday the 15th of March mass protests took place up and down the UK. The most substantial was concentrated around the bandstand on Clapham Common, close to where Sarah had been subjugated. The Duchess of Cambridge: Kate, attended the vigil earlier in the day to pay heed with flowers. Despite being peaceful, the gathering was deemed illegal due to covid restrictions. The Metropolitan Police pillaged the protest, women were lambasted and many detained needlessly. Notably, electrifying redhead: Patsy Stevenson, pommelled to the ground haphazardly, then brutishly handcuffed in full view of Global media. Calls for Cressida Dick, the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police, to resign were voiced. Apologies were given by herself but no offers to vacate her post were volunteered. There has been further speculation in her involvement in other Police corruption matters since the spring. 

In Liverpool, proposals to assemble for a kindred vigil were relinquished, the event was coerced into the virtual spectrum. The event organiser was issued with a ‘Cease to Desist’ letter by Merseyside Police, the former deputy Mayor; Anne  O’Byrne        who was assisting enabling the protest to go ahead received a similar warning from the authorities. The organiser was then to meet with Serena Kennedy who has superseded Andy Cooke as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police. Some optimism over the plight of Rape Survivors can be gained from female leadership.

Six weeks forward from the recommendations of the report in a Nation still in the latter days of the pandemic, real changes are implausible. Will any advances  be prevalent in six months and will there be hope for the next generation? Should the ‘Digital strip search’ have been allowed to submerge in the first instance? Is returning the prosecution of rapists to 2016 levels going far enough? Should the suitability of an individual for a Public Protection role not have already been considered before the deadly conduct of Wayne Couzens. What is coherent is that a corner has been turned and any actions and recommendations can only be considered positive towards the plight of rape survivors.

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