Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Juries to Be Shown Videos of Victims Reporting Rape

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Juries to Be Shown Videos of Victims Reporting Rape

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN BENTHAM

VIDEO footage of traumatised rape victims reporting attacks to the police is to be shown in court under government plans being announced today to boost conviction rates.

Ministers want the film to be shown as evidence for the first time to ensure that jurors witness the full distress felt by rape victims.

The aim is to make it easier to gain convictions amid concern that some rapists are escaping justice.

Only one in 20 rape allegations ends in a guilty verdict and many cases never reach court. Other changes unveiled today by Solicitor General Mike O'Brien include: . Clarifying the law on consent to force men to prove that a woman who was drunk or high on drugs agreed to sex.

. Allowing expert witnesses to explain why traumatised women delay reporting rape or stay with abusive partners.

. Permitting "hearsay" evidence when victims report attacks to friends, but not police, to be heard in court.

Announcing the plans, Mr O'Brien said he wanted to sweep aside the false assumptions about rape that were still deeply entrenched in society.

He said: "Conviction rates remain unacceptably low and we are determined to do more to tackle barriers to successful prosecution. We want to ensure that stronger cases are presented to the courts, witnesses are given greater assistance in providing evidence, and courts hear evidence from experts that will better inform juries.

"Juries need to understand the psychological impact of sexual offences upon victims to address myths and stereotypes concerning how a victim might be expected to behave."

The plan to show film from police stations follows concern that jurors might doubt the seriousness of a woman's claim if she appears relatively calm when giving evidence many months after the attack. As well as giving a clearer indication of the victim's distressthe film could provide evidence of injuries in cases where the woman reports the rape soon after it has taken place. …

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