Scots rape victims ‘kept in dark’ over cases

A report highlighted 'inconsistent' levels of communication with victims of rape. Picture: John Devlin
A report highlighted 'inconsistent' levels of communication with victims of rape. Picture: John Devlin
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ALMOST half of rape victims were unhappy with the updates they received from investigating officers as cases progressed through the justice system, Police Scotland has been told in an inspectors’ report.

A report from HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) highlighted what it said were “inconsistent” levels of communication with victims of rape in findings about the “investigative approach” for Police Scotland’s Fife Division.

Between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, a total of 1,690 rapes were recorded nationally by Police Scotland, an increase of 318 reports on the previous year.

The report focused on the Fife division, where there were 198 rapes reported to police, an increase of 91 reports.

Police Scotland was praised for its overall approach to victims, whom the inspector found had the “investigative process and their options clearly explained to them” by officers in the Fife division of the force.

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However, 46.4 per cent “of respondents were not satisfied with the level of feedback provided to them as the investigation progressed”.

“The level of communication provided to victims within Fife after the initial report is inconsistent”, the report stated.

Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “If people don’t hear anything about a case they tend to worry that something is wrong, so just making sure someone keeps in touch is important and shows why we need more resources to do this.”

In a separate finding, the report stated that the creation of a single merged force – Police Scotland – by ministers has led to a “more consistent approach” to rape investigations.

However, it also found massive variations in the number of rape cases being reported in different parts of Scotland.

Derek Penman, HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, said the report “highlights widely varying figures for reporting across the country, with rape reports increasing in 19 of the 32 local authority areas, but dropping markedly in the 13 others”.

He added: “I have suggested Police Scotland commission research to better understand the local variations.”

Police Scotland’s was also told to improve its joint work with advocacy services to help better “measure victim confidence” and provide better updates to those who have reported attacks.

Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes said: “It is simply unacceptable that individuals who have reported being victims of rape have been left without word.”

Assistant chief constable Malcolm Graham, Police Scotland lead officer for major crime and public protection, said: “Police Scotland recognise that feedback is vital to ensuring that we remain focussed on the right issues and areas for improvement, and our regular consultation with key partners, particularly those partners who provide support to victims, is invaluable.”

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