Injunctions: Now a child is at real risk.

On 26 April 2011, John Hemming MP used Parliamentary privilege to name a woman who, he alleged, was being taken to court by a local authority seeking to imprison her for speaking to him (which was, incidentally, a gross misrepresentation of the facts).

Widely reported (erroneously) as being an attempt by Mr Hemming to breach a so called ‘super-injunction’, this event is now oft-cited by those seeking to speak out generally about the current flow of privacy injunctions, including those in the ‘name and shame’ bracket.

This case had nothing to do with injunctions, super or otherwise, as the excellent Lucy Reed and Carl Gardner both pointed out at the time.

Yesterday, a new Twitter account started sending out tweets containing details of what the user alleges are super-injunctions, including the case referred to by John Hemming on 26 April.

In referring to that case, the account publishes an address. An address which, if correct, is the home of a child.

I don’t know about you, but I care not about the sexual activities of footballers, comedians, bankers and pop stars et al. However, I do care about kids.

In his desire to undermine the ‘secrecy’ of the family justice system, Hemming has, quite possibly, put a child at risk. It was reasonably foreseeable, given what is out there about this case, that someone would do this.

Mr Hemming, it is time you stopped abusing Parliamentary privilege, and started to actually think about the consequences of your actions.

 

Shoesmith and Baby P: Who does have blood on their hands?

 

Tracey Connolly (his mother), Steven Barker (her boyfriend) and Jason Owen (Barker’s brother) were physically responsible for the death of Baby P. However, Parliament was just as implicit in his death; and in the death of child protection.

Sharon Shoesmith, the former Director of Children’s Services for Haringey, today won her appeal in the Court of Appeal. Finding that she was ‘simply and summarily scapegoated‘, in the media furore which surrounded the death of Baby P, the Court determined the decision to dismiss her unlawful and therefore void.

To summarise her case, Ed Balls, then Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, called a press conference after the OFSTED report into Baby P’s death was published, and effectively, live on television, summarily dismissed Ms Shoesmith, declaring her ‘unfit for office’. She hadn’t had the chance to even digest, never mind refute or respond, to the contents of that report.

She was denied due process. She was vilified. She was made out by Ed Balls, a representative of a Government with its own agenda, to be the human embodiment of blame. Blame for a death she had no part in.

Do you remember Baby P? Peter Connelly was 17 months old at the time of his death; a death caused by his mother, her boyfriend, and the boyfriend’s brother, who were convicted on 11 November 2008 of causing or allowing Peter’s death, contrary to s5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

Born 1 March 2006, Peter didn’t have much peace once his mother introduced her new boyfriend into their lives.

The boyfriend moved in when Peter was 8 months old, in November 2006. A month later, in December, the GP noticed bruising to Peter’s face and chest. Peter was removed from mum’s care, and she was arrested. Peter’s name was added to the Child Protection Register under the categories of physical abuse and neglect. His two siblings were placed on the CPR under the category of neglect.

After inquiries, and initial assessments, Peter was returned to her care in January 2007.

In April 2007 Peter was admitted to hospital with bruising, two black eyes and swelling to his head. He was discharged back to his mother’s care.

In May 2007, a social worker noticed marks to Peter’s face and sent him for examination. Twelve separate areas of bruising and scratches were found. His mother was re-arrested, and released on police bail. Peter was again discharged into her care.

In June 2007, mother’s boyfriend moved his brother into the house.

On 30 July 2007, a social worker visited, and found Peter smeared with chocolate. The social worker therefore didn’t see the injuries to his face and hands which the subsequent post mortem examination found.

On 1 August 2007, Peter was examined at a child development clinic.

On 2 August 2007, Peter’s mother was told she was not going to be prosecuted in relation to the injuries discovered the previous December.

On 3 August 2007, at 12.10pm, Peter was pronounced dead.

The cause of death was a fracture/dislocation of the thoraco-lumbar spine. He had 8 broken ribs, several finger- and toe-nails missing, cuts and bruises to several areas of his body, and a tear to his fraenulum. One of his teeth was found in his colon, due to him swallowing it after it being knocked out. In all, over 50 separate injuries were found.

As soon as Peter’s death was reported, the public, buoyed by the popular press, began baying for blood. They wanted someone, anyone, to be found responsible for this, and they wanted a public hanging.

The one place they were not looking for their demon was Parliament. No-one, not a media outlet, not one institution, not one childrens’ charity; no-one, looked to Westminster Palace.

Yet that is where the bad guy was hiding. Just four years before Peter, we had the largest, most in-depth review of child protection arrangements we have ever had in the form of the Laming Report, which arose from the death of Victoria Climbie, who died 25 February 2000 with 128 injuries and scars.  The report made 108 recommendations, 82 of which were to be implemented within 6 months – that is, by Summer 2003.

Yet Peter died because much of what went wrong in Victoria’s case was repeated in his. He died because although the amount of relentless and useless paperwork had increased, nothing of any real value changed post Laming.

Peter was failed by each body who had involvement in his life. The list includes (but is not exhaustive):

One social services department;

One police force;

The CPS;

Four hospitals.

Peter died due to a lack of information shared between services. He died due to poorly trained social workers, doctors, policemen and lawyers. All eminently trained in their own spheres, but not trained in how to take an overview of these cases. Not trained in how to share knowledge. Not trained in taking ownership of a problem.

Peter died because of a lack of information sharing technology. Yes, there was a social services file. Yes, there was a police file, and a CPS file, and of course he had medical records. Four separate bodies, four separate files, no proper mechanism for sharing.

Peter died because everyone in child protection is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the work. It is mountainous. The number of families who need support is huge. The amount of people the system can afford to employ with current funding levels is miniscule. Thus it is very easy for children, especially pre-school children, to slip through the very nets designed to catch them, to prevent deaths like this happening. School is a great saviour to children, particularly children from backgrounds like Peter’s, but it is not infallible.

Peter died due to a lack of funding. There are not enough social workers. There are not enough local authority lawyers. There are not enough officers in the police child protection teams. There are not enough community paediatricians.

There is little funding for training doctors in how to ask the right questions of parents and to spot non-accidental injuries; to train more police officers; to train and properly staff the social services child protection teams, to put trained staff into the local authority legal departments.

There is little funding to afford those in child protection work time. Time to review information. Time to listen to the suspicions of colleagues. Time to spend with the child, or on the assessments needed. Time to train those coming up behind them, to impart their skills and knowledge, and let them know what to look out for. Hell, we now even set targets as to how much time the court should afford these cases.

Peter died because child protection is not a sexy issue. We are blind to the TV adverts of the likes of the NSPCC. They make us uncomfortable. We want to believe that every child has a Disney-esque upbringing. No-one really hurts them, or uses them for sex, or is so addicted to their drug of choice they forget to meet their basic needs for days, right?

Child protection is rarely, save for when cases like this occur, high on the agenda. And when cases like this do occur, the public fall for the political magic that focuses their attention away from Westminster and towards the likes of Sharon Shoesmith.

Don’t fall for it again. Don’t make today about Sharon Shoesmith, unless you are prepared to stand up and acknowledge the political trickery and why she was scapegoated.

That is, to stop us realising that basically the government is failing children. I am not about to make this a party issue. Frankly, in terms of child protection they are all as bad. There is no funding, there never has been any funding, and children are left in situations where they are injured, suffering neglect and dying because of it.

We have to change child protection. The current Government is proposing further cuts, as summarised by barrister Lucy Reed in her post here. Don’t let them.

If you’re prepared to ignore child protection issues, hold out your hands. Examine them. The blood of the 47 pre-school children who die every year in the same squalor and pain as Peter Connolly is on your hands. And mine. Lets do something about it. Suggestions welcome.

Cookies. Not Oats and Raisin.

Sorry foodie fans, this is about the other cookies. The ones that live in your computer (yeah, I don’t know how either). I first wrote about this here, when there was a lot of noise about what may happen.

The helpful chaps at the DMCS have now sent out an open letter, which sets out the Government position. Not wanting to be left out of the party, the ICO have today set out their position.

As last time, there seems to be a slight disconnect between the two, and when considering both, we should remember that Uncle Ed, as a Minister, trumps Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner.

The Government’s overall position is:

It is the view of DCMS that the UK implementation of the revised e-privacy Directive,particularly with regard to Article 5(3) on cookies, is light touch, business friendly and sets a benchmark in Europe.

The wording ‘light touch’ and ‘business friendly’ is particularly relevant, as the Government has decided to be deliberately vague because basically, they are not entirely ready.

They have left scope in the amended regulations for Recital 66, which is to the effect that users can indicate consent to cookies via their browsers, to ultimately be the overall position once enhanced browsers have been developed.

That is, the Government does not consider browser settings as they stand to be enough to indicate consent, but they are working to develop a technical solution to that end.

Because the tech solution sought is not yet available, the letter goes on to state:

… enforcement action will not be taken until appropriate technical solution [sic] are available.

The letter also makes an interesting point about ‘prior consent’, which, if you recall, led a number of people to have the initial response that they would have to clutter their site with pop-ups to ensure they complied.

On this, the Government says:

… the word “prior” does not occur in Article 5(3) of the Directive, and it therefore does not appear in the UK transposition. Crucially, there is no indication in the definition as to when that consent may be given, and so it is possible that consent may be given after or during processing.

Rather than ‘prior’, the Government focus is on ‘informed’ consent, hence the request for a technical solution involving browsers – that is, they want the browser to ensure the user has to take steps to enable cookies, rather than as now, where (to my knowledge anyway, which isn’t highly technical) the user has to take steps to disable cookies.

All good? Right… the ICO press release. But first, and without calling it ‘ugly’ or ‘clunky’ or mentioning that perhaps this solution is why Government is so keen on a browser solution, I will show you how the ICO site is gaining consent:

 

Firstly, the press release opens with the fact that the Information Commissioner is giving website owners one year to comply with cookie law. How generous. The actuality is that the ICO cannot take enforcement proceedings until Government have sorted all this out, but you know, he is a regulator, and bless, often tries to show he has some teeth in his press releases.

While I could now go off into a whole world of snark about the ridiculousness of most of what he is saying, I won’t. The important part of that release is this:

Browser settings giving individuals more control over cookies will be an important contributor to a solution. But the necessary changes to the technology aren’t there yet. In the meantime, although there isn’t a formal transitional period in the Regulations, the government has said they don’t expect the ICO to enforce this new rule straight away.

So, as I summarised last time, right now, all you have to do is well, keep calm and carry on. Uncle Ed will let us all know when it is time to actually do something.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s in a word?

I noticed this tweet this morning, from someone who is rarely ranty:

My comment on my last tweet: Feisty? Oh Fuck. Right. Off. It’s 2011, not the Dark Ages! *seriously pissed off face*

Curiosity piqued, I went back to ascertain what had upset her, and found it was this Guardian article about Toni Pearce, who has just been elected as the NUS VP of FE, and who is apparently, a touch on the feisty side.

I was reminded of a short exchange I had last week. David Allen Green, a prominent lawyer, had tweeted about my Ken Clarke/Victoria Derbyshire piece, mentioning in his attribution that I’m a female lawyer.

Someone (male) immediately tweeted ‘or, as we call them, ‘a lawyer’.

I responded with something that made clear I had no issue with my gender being mentioned.

That evening I was coincidently having a drink with David following a legal bloggers event. We had a chat about that exchange, agreeing that in that instance, my gender was relevant. I am grateful to David that although he had to field various comments about my gender, he did not allow that to become the issue de jour.

Which brings me to my point.

In reacting to the fact Toni Pearce is deemed feisty by the Guardian, or that David Allen Green chose to mention my gender, we lose sight of the real issue.

In these instances, that Toni won the election, and that I was appalled that, in mauling Ken Clarke, we ran the risk of knocking the rape debate off the agenda.

I care not how I’m described (I was even called a feminist last week; I don’t, frankly, know what one is), and I suspect Toni Pearce doesn’t either. I bet she’s grateful for the publicity of her political agenda, just as I was grateful of the publicity of my point.

Let’s not get ourselves bogged down in side issues like this. Let’s continue to make progress by getting the jobs, by speaking about the real issues which affect us, by standing firm and not getting overly upset by unhelpful language. We can deal with all that later. But right now, it’s just not important enough.

(The image is a word cloud of this site, thanks to Wordle)

You’re doing it wrong!

As I have mentioned, in my past I practised law.

As is typical of many members of my former profession, I have rather high levels of analness.

So when people get legal things wrong, it bugs me, and I often can’t help myself in correcting them.

Today, I am to be found in a corner of my room, holding myself, rocking, and mumbling ‘but they’re doing it wrong‘.

The injunction brouhaha concerns injunctions. Bog standard, run of the mill, everyday ‘you must not do X’ injunctions. In the cases doing the rounds, the X is restraining publication of private details of various s’lebs and people who kick balls around for a living.

What it is absolutely not is anything to do with super-injunctions.

Super-injunctions, which are normal injunctions made super by the fact you cannot even mention that an order has been made, are extraordinarily rare. As the Report of the Committee on Super-Injunctions made clear on Friday, only 2 have been granted post Terry, one has been set aside, and one was to prevent tipping off (page vi).

So please. Pretty please, think of me rocking in that corner and stop, for the love of all that is [insert deity/whatever of choice here] stop uttering the phrase super-injunction. And that includes you, Independent Newspaper, with your grossly misleading front page.

Image credit: From the absolutely spendiferous XKCD

Oh, the irony.

I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the magnitude of the irony of a person, who, having taken out an order to protect his privacy, then makes an application for Twitter to ignore its users’ right to privacy and hand over personal details.  It’s so deliciously Monty Python-esque it is beyond description.

So, what’s going on? Well, allegedly, once upon a time there was a footballer, who, in shocking news, didn’t realise that getting married generally means you don’t shag people other than your wife*.

The alleged footballer allegedly shagged an alleged ‘reality’ TV show contestant. The alleged footballer realised, presumably post coitus, that this was A Very Bad Thing and ran off to mummy crying the big boys were about to pick on him the High Court seeking an injunction (popularly referred to as a ‘gagging order’) to prevent the Screws of the World and their ilk telling anyone he had allegedly been playing hide the sausage.

With me so far?

Injunctions are basically orders which make someone do something, or tell someone they can’t do something. Under those orders it is a contempt of court to not do the something, or do the something they prevent. There are also now super-injunctions (of which this isn’t one) that prevents the publication of the fact there is an injunction, never mind the details of it. However, as the Neuberger Report told us yesterday, there were only 2 and one of those has now gone anyway.

The order in this particular case is to prevent anyone publicising the name of the footballer in relation to his shagging activities, in order that his privacy is maintained. Note, his privacy. In what has probably given her the biggest reality check of her life, this order does nothing to prevent the privacy of the reality TV show contestant, who is media fair game. (Can anyone spell ‘chivalry’?)

Twitter users being as they are, have named the footballer numerous times, and one particular individual set up an account the whole purpose of which is to broadcast details of injunctions.

Not realising that Twitter users are rather like naughty children, in that if you ignore them they get bored and move on to something else, and in a move that some may say demonstrates the intellectual level of this particular footballer (bless), on Wednesday, an application was made against Twitter Inc, seeking an order for disclosure of user details. The application itself (as in, the physical papers) have not yet been made public, so I have no idea how many account details the footballer is seeking.

The footballer needs the account details in order that he may ask the court to enforce his order. Yup, that is right, that is how injunctions work. You apply for it, then if it is breached, the way you enforce it is to apply to court for the person committing the breach to ‘show cause’ as to why an application should not be made for their committal. The court, of its own motion, does not enforce this order for you, you have to do it yourself.

So basically, Mr Footballer, wants those people who have ‘outed’ him, to show cause. But he can’t make the application for them to show cause when he doesn’t know who they are, so he has to ask the court, to ask Twitter, to give him that information.

The order he has applied for is known as a Norwich Pharmacal order. To succeed the footballer has to show:

*That he has a reasonable belief that a wrong-doing has occurred;

*That the disclosure of information from Twitter is needed to enable him to take action;

*That Twitter is not a mere witness, and that even innocently, is sufficiently caught up in the wrong-doing that they have the information;

*That the order is necessary on the facts of case in the interests of justice.

It is difficult, on the criteria, to see how Twitter is going to successfully defend this action. Save for of course, this is an order made by an English court against a business in the USA. Well, there is actually authority for this, in the form of an order made against Facebook, (Applause Store Productions & Firsht v Raphael [2008] EWHC 17) where the applicant successfully applied for email addresses, IP addresses and registration details of the respondent.

The bigger issue that this case throws up is the battle of privacy. In applying for this order the footballer is, arguably encroaching on privacy in order to protect his own. While his case on the authorities seems strong, his case starts to look irrelevant in the wider context.

*other types of marriage are available

In screwing Ken Clarke, Victoria Derbyshire fucked rape victims.

Bloody Hell We're Buggered Now

Bloody Hell We’re Buggered Now

So, for the third time this week I am writing about rape. My first post was about the Slutwalk, and can be found here.

My second, yesterday, was my defence of Ken Clarke (here) following this interview with Vic Derbyshire, whereby it is alleged that Ken Clarke refuted that rape is rape, and which lead to not only Ed Milliband spuriously calling for Mr Clarke’s resignation, but David Cameron forcing Clarke to apologise, in my opinion equally as spuriously.

I say forcing Clarke to apologise was spurious because quite frankly, there was nothing to apologise for. The PM should have grown a pair, stood up to the media witch hunt, presented a proper analysis of what actually happened and laid the blame firmly where it belonged – that is, at Victoria Derbyshire’s door.

Clarke’s comments were taken entirely out of context, and were made while attempting to make sense of Derbyshire misrepresenting the sentences routinely handed down for rape. In any event, you need not take my word for it, I urge you to listen to the whole interview and make your own mind up.

Why do I say that she has fucked rape victims? Because she has. Royally.

In February 2010 Baroness Stern wrote a review of rape, to ascertain how the changes made by the then government had impacted on reporting, prosecutions and convictions. It can be found here (and I looked at it here). Anyone who knows anything about rape knows that reporting is incredibly low, circa 10% of the offences committed. Of those that are reported, prosecutions are low, due to the lack of evidence that is a feature of this crime.

Overall therefore the chance of a victim of rape seeing his or her rapist punished for the crime is slim. Extremely slim.

Baroness Stern made decent recommendations aimed at improving the rates of reporting; prosecutions and convictions, but her review was devilled by the timing of publication – just before the change in government. No-one can argue that the new government hasn’t been busy, undertaking, shall we say, housekeeping, following that change. Therefore her review, and thus rape, fell off the political agenda.

Until now. In what, to my knowledge, is the first look by the government at this offence, Clarke put it back on the agenda by wanting to look at offering sentence discounts for early guilty pleas to avoid the trauma of trial for a victim. I don’t know if any of you have seen a (real) rape trial, but they are not pretty.

Wanting to publicise his aims, Clarke went along to BBC Radio 5 Live to be interviewed by Derbyshire. What happened (and again, I urge you to listen to it) was tabloid journalism at its worst. From the outset Derbyshire harangued Clarke, aggressively misquoting sentence guidelines at him, and then when he had the temerity to seek clarification, she accused him of saying rape isn’t rape. She then put a crying victim on the line (who’s story, frankly, requires clarification in and of itself). A media storm then ensued, using the very emotive line that Clarke said ‘Rape isn’t Rape’, and well, we all know the rest.

However, in her aim to be radio’s answer to the Daily Mail, Victoria Derbyshire has ensured that rape is now off the political agenda. There is absolutely no way, especially in a political climate such as it is, that any politician is going to touch the issue with a barge pole, for fear of the same occurring again. And while we have journalists such as Victoria Derbyshire, more concerned with making a name for herself by being a bad parody of Paxman than actually progressing the issue, we are frankly, buggered.

It is a little unfair of me to lay the blame wholly at Derbyshire’s door. The knee jerk reactions on Twitter, as I wrote yesterday, were breathtaking. The media follow up can best be summed up as not letting the facts get in the way of a decent soundbite. The internet, and immediate journalism, were alive with this thing. While having instant news is cracking, and we all feel throughly informed, maybe occasionally we should take the time to step back, look at the facts, consider the whole picture and then ascertain where we are.

Until then, we are going to have to wait a fair amount of time to get another crack of having rape on the political agenda. Cheers, sister. Thanks, internet.

 

Rape is rape. Right?

Twitter is awash this afternoon with people being terribly offended by what Ken Clarke is alleged to have said on Victoria Derbyshire’s radio show earlier this morning. I say ‘alleged’ for good reason. It is apparent that, as sadly is usual with Twitter, there is a lot of knee jerking and taking out of context going on.  You can listen to the broadcast here.

I have many issues with that broadcast, and the furore that developed on Twitter, none of which accord with the general opinions being propounded.

Victoria Derbyshire misrepresented the sentencing guidelines, which you can read here. As you can see, the 5 years she quoted as ‘the’ sentence for rape, is the starting point for a single offence without any of the aggravating features.

All offences have a starting point in terms of sentence. All offences have mitigating features and aggravating features, which reduce/increase a sentence accordingly. Therefore, as is proper in a civilised society, the harshest sentences are reserved for the most grave offences of a type.

This is where Mr Clarke’s lack of eloquence and lack of preparation caught him out.  Trying to make sense of the presenter’s preposterous and distorted maths, and stumbling over his words, he answered ‘No, it is not’ to Victoria Derbyshire’s point that rape is rape.

He is quite right, in context. Rape is not rape; there is a huge range of offences of that type, hence a huge variation in sentences. As Mr Clarke said, the 17 year old having sex with a willing 15 year old is guilty of rape, in that a 15 year old cannot consent to intercourse, and sex without consent is rape in the eyes of the law.

However, no-one (one would hope) would suggest that the offence that the 17 year old in that scenario committed is anything like the rapist who breaks into an 80 year old’s home in the dead of night and forces himself upon her, punching her several times in the face while she tries to scream and struggle.

In my opinion, Ken Clarke committed 2 crimes today. The first was his lack of eloquence, which is unusual for him. The second was not having the sentencing guidelines at his fingertips so that he could properly argue against the spurious case put forward by Victoria Derbyshire.

Rape is rape. Except sometimes, it’s not.

 

 

A slutstorm in a teacup?

Once upon a very recent time, a policeman in Toronto was at a law school giving out tips on safety. One of his imparted pieces of wisdom was that women ought to avoid dressing like sluts to prevent sexual assault.

Usually this type of idiocy is met with a sharp inhalation of breath, the perpetrator is condemned as an idiot, and everyone moves on.

However, the ladies of Toronto, under the banner ‘Because we’ve had enough‘ organised a march and called it a ‘Slutwalk’, which has inspired copy marches in cities around the world, London’s being on 11th June (details here).

Much has been written on the movement that Slutwalks would appear to have become. Overwhelmingly (in shocking news) most most media outlets have entirely missed the point, thinking people are marching to ‘reclaim’ the word slut, or the right to go out showing off vajazzled vajayjays should they so desire. Only yesterday I saw this on Twitter:

Just to say, I’m really not clear what#slutwalk aims to achieve….using “slut”, hardly a term of endearment but hey it’s their right

So what is it all about?

It is about you. Me. Attitudes. About an offence where the victim* is likely to be made to feel responsible for the acts committed against her; where she will be condemned, vilified, judged, and is highly unlikely to receive justice, if she reports the offence in the first place.

Rape is alarmingly common. The Stern Review estimates that over 100,000 rapes are committed each year, although only approximately 11% of those are reported. Ask any woman in your circle how many people she knows who has been raped, and it is likely to be more than 1. I know 4, and I am not extraordinary.

Sticking with numbers, there is the often cited figure of a 6% conviction rate for rape. That figure is calculated from convictions resulting from crimes reported as rape. The conviction rate for those charged is 58%.

What those numbers basically mean is: there is a low reporting incidence from the victims; of those who do report there is a low charging rate; of those who are charged, there is a low conviction rate. I am entirely hopeless at maths, but it is not hard to see that of the 100,000 rapes which occur each year, the chances of getting a conviction are minimal. Indeed, in the 4 women I know, not one saw her rapist get convicted. Why?

The simple answer is attitude. The last government did a lot of work in this area, including giving us specially trained police officers, judges, prosecutors, special measures for giving evidence and a new definition of the offence. They appointed Baroness Stern to review how they were doing and why rape reporting and convictions were still low.

She found:

There is a view that women are in some way to blame for being raped if they go out wearing revealing clothes and have too much to drink. Some complain of the tendency to lecture women on what they should and should not do rather than making it clear to men that sex without consent is rape.

That is what Slutwalk is about. The overarching aim is to move the focus of rape from blaming the victim, to putting responsibility for the crime where it belongs, with the rapist. The only way that can happen is by awareness.

Small steps are being made within the criminal justice system itself. As Baroness Stern found:

It is suggested that jurors may, as members of the public, be ill informed about rape and may assume that all rape victims fight back, have injuries, report the crime straight away and are obviously deeply distressed, although none of these assumptions is accurate. Following a welcome judgment by the Court of Appeal, judges are now able to explain to the jury in general terms the effects of rape on complainants.

However, Sara Payne published her Rape Experience Victim Review just as Baroness Stern was commissioned to undertake her review, which found that awareness of the actuality of rape, both within all sectors of the criminal justice system and the wider public was poor, highlighting some shameful examples of how victims have been treated.

To my knowledge, none of the recommendations of Ms Payne or Baroness Stern have been adopted, there being a change in government shortly after the latter was published. If Slutwalk achieves nothing else, it would be utterly amazing if it only pushed that report to the forefront of the political agenda and the baton of sorting rape was firmly passed to current government.

 

*I have for ease used the feminine throughout this post. I wholly acknowledge that rape is a crime committed against men and women.

Image credit