“Victims” may no longer be automatically believed by the police

April 29, 2018

Many FACT members have been deeply hurt by the police policy of “believing the victim”. Someone facing a wrongful allegation of abuse may well feel that they start at a serious disadvantage when the “victim’s” account is automatically believed. They are dismayed to find that the normal presumption of innocence is reversed and they are treated as “guilty until proven innocent”.

Indeed this policy was strongly criticised in the Henriques Report of 2016. You can read the Henriques Report here and the redacted sections are here. Henriques wrote that the policy of ‘believing victims’ “strikes at the very core of the criminal justice process” and that it “has and will generate miscarriages of justice on a considerable scale”.

Now, 18 months after the Henriques Report, there are encouraging signs that the policy of ‘believing the victim’ will be dropped. The College of Policing, a body that sets national policing standards, have reviewed their guidance in the light of the Henriques Report and are now seeking input from other agencies. Their paper “Review into the Terminology “Victim/Complainant” and Believing Victims at time of Reporting” is available here.

As of the 23rd of April, the College are intending to gather information from other stakeholders before coming to a final decision on their guidance.

 

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