Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary launch survey to improve engagement with victims of sexual violence
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Crimes against women and girls have increased by nearly a quarter across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight when comparing 2020 to 2021 according to recent analysis by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary.
These offences – which include rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse, domestic violence, stalking, and harassment amongst others – have accounted for more than a quarter (27%) of all crime committed in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight during 2021.
The analysis also found that overall, approximately 10% of offences against women and girls are deemed to be violent in nature.
As a result - in conjunction with City University London and a host of other UK forces – Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Constabulary has launched a Victim Survivors Police Experience Survey for rape and other sexual offences. The survey the aim to improve the ways in which we engage with victims of rape and other sexual offences, and thereby improve the victim-survivor experience of the police investigation and criminal justice process.
The short, anonymous, online questionnaire will seek to gauge the person’s experience and satisfaction of their interaction with the police and lead to recommendations to the Constabulary, and the Home Office, in addressing how to improve police engagement with victims of sexual violence.
As part of the survey – which will last approximately six months – it will see victims who have (or have had previous) experience in reporting a rape or other sexual assault to the police be invited to participate in a Victim Survivors Police Experience Survey.
Detective Superintendent Ellie Hurd, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary lead for rape and serious sexual offences, said: “Rape is one of the most complex and challenging crimes we deal with within the criminal justice system.
"It is one of our top priorities as a force and we work incredibly closely with partners such as the Crown Prosecution Service, Treetops Sexual Assault Referral Centre, victim support and victim advocacy services in order to provide the best possible service to victims of rape and serious sexual offenses.
“Our officers and staff are dedicated to achieving the best outcomes for victims, but we recognise improvements are needed when it comes to measuring victim satisfaction; alongside making strides in improving how engagement with victims of rape and other sexual offences is handled.
“That is why I am delighted to announce our research pilot with City University of London and hope that this will provide us with some tangible results, and core recommendations, to continually improve the service that we provide to victims of rape and other sexual offences.
“It is hoped that the findings of the pilot will allow us to implement key learnings locally, which may contribute to better policing responses provided to victims, increasing confidence in victims reporting offences and providing sufficient evidence to put perpetrators in front of the courts in order to get justice for victims.
“Rape and other sexual offences are really, really traumatic and impactive crimes, and this survey will inform improvements to our approach to policing these offences now, and in the future.
“We want to reassure victims of these offences that if rape and other sexual offences are reported to the police, that we take it incredibly seriously. We will treat, and do treat, victims with respect.
“We want to inform and empower you, and support you to make choices, and to work with us through the criminal justice system.
“We will continue to work in partnership with CPS Wessex to identify offenders and get justice for victims of rape and serious sexual assault cases where the evidence allows, and where that is what the victim wants.”
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, said: “Understanding victim’s journeys from that first call for help, and every step in the criminal justice system that follows, is absolutely paramount for police to bring about long lasting change to how they manage rape and sexual assault investigations.
“As Joint Victims Lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, I have been calling for change in the way rape and sexual assaults are investigated, specifically improving support for victims and the way police and the CPS work together to take cases to court.
“As Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, I am really pleased my force is leading the way as one of the first forces in the country to actively seek out victim’s voices and ask for independent scrutiny to improve their service.
“I will be reviewing the feedback and ensuring views of those who have been brave enough to share their experience are listened to and acted upon.”
Dr Katrin Hohl from City University of London, and Principal Investigator of the study, said: “Listening to survivor voices is central to improving how police interact with survivors of rape and other sexual offences. This survey will provide valuable insight into current survivor experiences of the police process, allow holding police forces to account on survivor experience, and to give police forces concrete pointers on what they are already doing well, or needs improving.”
“The survey has been in development over twelve months with extensive consultation of survivors, survivor support organisations, academic experts and police partners.”
“Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is one of the first forces in the country to actively and widely promote the survey as it launches in January 2023, and to encourage survivors whose case has been investigated by the force to take part, thus enabling survivor voices to be heard and acted upon. This is a really positive step.”
Deborah Gearing, Independent Sexual Violence Adviser Manager at Hampton Trust, said: “It isn’t easy for survivors to speak out, we are encouraging everyone to take this opportunity to have a voice, share their views and provide feedback of their experience of the criminal justice system.
“We aim to enhance the experience for all survivors reporting sexual offences. Hampton Trust offer support to anyone on the Isle of Wight who has been subjected to sexual violence and abuse. If you require support, please the ISVA service at Hampton Trust [email protected]”
Kat Friend, Operations & Engagement Manager at the Victim Care Service, said: “It is vital that survivor’s voices are heard and their experiences are taken into account, and we encourage those who feel able and comfortable sharing their experiences to do so in this survey.
“We know that for many this may be difficult and survivors should know that help and support is always available. Our specialist Support line can be reached 24/7 at www.victimsupport.org.uk.”
Tracey Stovold, Independent Sexual Violence Adviser Lead at Yellow Door, said: “We would encourage survivors and victims to use the power of their voices to share the changes or improvements that they feel is needed in the criminal justice system.
“It is also an opportunity for victims or survivors to provide feedback on what is working well so we can share the good practice with others. If you require support please contact Yellow Door via https://yellowdoor.org.uk/.”