Response 1069872541

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Other views

7. We would welcome any additional views you have on our strategy and how it will affect you, or any other person.

We would welcome any views you have.
Rape Crisis Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to Police Scotland's consultation on the draft strategy for policing for the next 10 years. The response of Police Scotland to people in Scotland experiencing sexual crime is of fundamental importance to people's confidence in reporting these crimes, and to their experience of the criminal justice system. Rape is a crime which is historically under reported, and despite significant increases in levels of recorded rape in Scotland, it remains the case that around 50% of people in touch with rape crisis centres in Scotland have not reported what has happened to them to the police. The advent of Police Scotland has led to a transformation in how sexual crime is investigated in Scotland. The significant majority of people in contact with Rape Crisis Scotland report a positive experience of reporting what has happened to them to the police. The move to specialism has made a significant difference, and is an approach we consider should continue, not only for sexual crime but also for crimes such as stalking, where the nature of the crime means that a specialist response is likely to be more effective. We welcome the emphasis within the draft strategy document on partnership working. We commend the approach taken by Police Scotland to date in relation to sexual crime. Our experience is that the police are keen to work in partnership with, and listen to, agencies such as Rape Crisis Scotland who have a key role in supporting survivors of sexual crime. In addition to the existing positive relationships nationally, relationships between rape crisis centres and local rape investigation units are important, and we consider that this is something which can be built upon. The police referral and feedback protocol with Rape Crisis Scotland is innovative and effective. It ensures not only that proactive support is provided to people reporting sexual crime, but crucially that feedback is obtained from complainers about their experience of reporting to the police, and that this feedback is reported on a structured and regular basis to Police Scotland at a national and local level. Our experience is that Police Scotland are genuinely keen to seek, hear and act on feedback - positive and negative - from complainers. This is an approach which should continue. We also welcome the recognition within the draft strategy of the role that the police have to play in preventing crime. We consider that the police have an important role to play in ensuring a clear, joined up prevention strategy on sexual offences, particularly in ensuring that young people have a clear understanding of what behaviour is criminalised by the law, particularly in relation to consent. We look forward to working with Police Scotland over the next years to ensure a far greater public understanding of the legal definition of rape, the meaning of consent, and particularly the situations where consent is considered not to be present, e.g. because of how intoxicated someone is. We also welcome the recognition of the role technology and social media is playing in the the commission of crime. It is crucial that Police Scotland maintain and develop the technological skills and expertise to effectively prosecute crimes wholly or partially committed online. There is no doubt that the current provision of forensic examinations following a sexual offence is unacceptable, and that this needs to be transformed. Work is underway to achieve this, and the police have an important role to play in ensuring that this provision better meets the needs of people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. The current practice of these examinations taking place in police stations, which we understand happens in around 50% of cases, needs to stop, and a timescale should be put in place for this practice ceasing. The coming decade is one which we believe has the possibility to transform the experience of the criminal justice system for vulnerable victims of crime. The proposals contained in the Evidence and Procedure Review could dramatically reduce the level of trauma experienced by rape complainers going through the court process in Scotland, and better create circumstances where someone can give their best evidence. We consider the police have a pivotal role to play in making this a reality. The move to video record someone's statement to the police, and this being used as their evidence in chief in any resulting trial, is a development we consider should be piloted for rape cases in the coming months, prior to full implementation of the Evidence and Procedure Review proposals. The approach of the SOLO to this interview will be crucial, and there is a need for both an investment in technology but also in training. Any significant change must be evaluated, to ensure we learn from progress, and actively seek the views of those most directly affected.

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Organisation Name
Rape Crisis Scotland