Senior police officer calls for rape prevention work
English and Welsh police officers are being urged to do more in their efforts to prevent rapes.
Martin Hewitt, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner believes that forces have been too “reactive” and should become proactive so that these crimes are prevented. He also said that when dealing with rape victims police should be “honest” about the difficulties of getting convictions.
Mr Hewitt is the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead for adult sexual offences and wants police and other agencies to focus on people who are vulnerable to abuse institutions where intelligence suggests it’s taking place, reports the BBC.
He said the debate on sexual offences “is far too often restricted to investigation and prosecution” and called for a “challenging debate about prevention as well.
“Most rape involves the coming together of some form of power and some type of vulnerability; either permanent or temporary,” he said. “We need to be utilising all our powers and tactics to understand how this happens, to mitigate the vulnerability and reduce the opportunities for that power to be abused.”
Whilst convictions of rape are at an all-time high Mr Hewitt has said that victims should be made aware that over a third of rape prosecutions don’t end in convictions. Hewitt is aware that the conviction rate could “put people off reporting” victims should still be encouraged to come forward.
“It triggers a full investigation into the offence, but also means that victims are able to access medical treatment and support services to help them cope with the experience,” he said.
Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said victims “need to know” they will be taken seriously and treated sensitively.
“It takes a great deal of courage for victims to come forward but their confidence to do so is vital in bringing perpetrators to justice,” he said.
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