NatCen welcomes national action plan as an opportunity to galvanise national and local efforts against sexual violence
13 March 2015
The publication today of the National Group Progress Report and Action Plan outlines key steps by which public, private and voluntary-sector organisations can play a role in tackling sexual violence.
The Action Plan, published by the Home Office, has been released in the context of mounting recognition of the threat posed by child sexual exploitation. However, the plan pushes agencies to look beyond specific forms of sexual violence, such as the gang-related abuse detailed in the recent reports on Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford, and to act in the interests of all vulnerable people – child or adult.
The criminal justice system is highlighted as an area in which sexual violence victims should be far better served. Only a minority of victims turn to the criminal justice system, but even those who do can feel that the experience harms them rather than assisting their recovery. Recognising this, the National Group made improving the criminal justice system’s treatment of victims a priority from the start.
Dr Caroline Paskell, Research Director in NatCen’s Crime and Justice Team, has been the National Group’s Challenger on criminal justice since it was established, she commented:
“The National Action Plan rightly recognises the need to ensure that the criminal justice system is accessible to all victims of sexual violence – not operating better for one or other ‘model’ of victim. Likewise, it is encouraging that the Action Plan amplifies ways that victims can be better protected once they are able to engage with the system.”
Reflecting on the fact that victims of sexual violence do not typically turn to the criminal justice system at all, or disengage during the process, she added:
“Improving the criminal justice response to victims has to be set in the context of a broader commitment to support victims – the National Action Plan sets out key steps, but the questions over resourcing remain.”
Dr Paskell worked with the Crown Prosecution Service, the Ministry of Justice and the wider sector to set out how victims of sexual violence can be better served by the justice system. Specifically, her efforts have focused on how to promote equality of access to justice and how to safeguard victims through the process – key objectives which are now clearly stated in the plan.
The full report is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sexual-violence-against-children-and-vulnerable-people-progress-report
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0131 224 0222
Notes to Editors
The Action Plan has been devised by the National Group on Sexual Violence against Children and Vulnerable People.
The National Group has been convened since April 2013 by the Home Office.
It has representation from across government and the statutory sector and from four voluntary-sector ‘challengers’.
Dr Caroline Paskell, Research Director in NatCen’s Crime and Justice Team, has been a member of the National Group since it was founded.
Dr Paskell’s specific responsibility on the National Group has been as its Challenger on criminal justice, working alongside the Crown Prosecution Service and the Ministry of Justice, along with other National Group member organisations and external stakeholders with insights into how the criminal justice system should be improved for victims.
NatCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.