Closed petition Make it mandatory for Police & CPS to provide counselling to ALL victims of CSA
Make it mandatory the Police & Crown Prosecution Service provide ALL victims of child sexual abuse with counselling & support before during & after trial without prejudicing justice. This is in gov legislation, but the CPS & Police still advise victims it can affect the trial. This needs to end.
In memory of our 13 year old Brother Declan to implement Declan's Law. As it's a moral duty for CPS & police to provide counselling to child sexual abuse victims without fear it may affect their trial. Declan was raped by a paedophile. Our mum begged CPS, Police & Local Authority to provide counselling for her children but was told this would contaminate court evidence.Our brother Declan took his own life age 13. His death could have been prevented "Declan's Law" would ensure future CSA victims get the support they deserve when it’s needed
This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months
This response was given on 3 February 2023
There is no bar to a victim of child sexual abuse seeking pre-trial therapy or counselling. There are no plans to mandate provision of these services by the police and Crown Prosecution Service.
We were saddened to hear about the tragic death of your brother, Declan. We recognise the devastating impact that child sexual abuse can have on victims and their families and are committed to ensuring they have access to the support they need.
The provision of counselling to victims of child sexual abuse is not prescribed in legislation and to do so would deny a victim their choice of whether to access support, and the form this takes. Under the Victims' Code, all victims have the right to be referred to support services when they report a crime to the police, regardless of whether anyone has been charged or convicted of a criminal offence, and regardless of whether they decide to report the crime to the police or do not wish to cooperate with the investigation. When victims report a crime, the police must provide them with information on where and how to get advice and support, including psychological support such as pre-trial therapy and counselling.
It is not the responsibility of the police or CPS to provide specialist, therapeutic support. Local authorities, Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) commission appropriate support services at a local level. Last May, we published a draft Victims Bill, to improve all victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system, including children and young people. As support accessed outside of safe accommodation, such as counselling, is commissioned locally, the Victims Bill will place a duty on PCCs, local authorities and ICBs to collaborate when commissioning services for victims of sexual abuse, as well as domestic abuse and other serious violence. As part of this duty, local commissioners are required to consider the needs of children, who may need tailored support services. The Bill will also strengthen the roles of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) who work with children, young people and their families. These advisors are crucial to supporting victims of sexual violence, with research showing that almost 50% more likely to stay engaged with the criminal justice process with this support.
We are committed to making it easier for victims to access support and have increased investment in specialised support services that help victims in rebuilding their lives. On 16 June 2022, the Ministry of Justice announced an additional £6.6 million funding for services supporting victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse, including children. The funding will be made available on a multi-year basis throughout this Spending Review period. We are also using additional ringfenced funding to increase the number of ISVAs and IDVAs by 300 to over 1000 by 2024/25, providing vital advice and support to survivors of sexual and domestic violence, including children. In June 2022, the Home Office launched its Support for Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (SVSCSA) Fund for 2022-2025, providing grant funding of up to £4.5m to voluntary sector organisations in England and Wales providing nationally accessible support to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.
We want to ensure that all victims feel confident in being able to seek justice and are supported at every stage of the process. There is no bar to a victim seeking pre-trial therapy or counselling and neither the police nor the CPS should prevent therapy from taking place prior to a trial. The government’s guidance on ‘‘Provision of therapy for child witnesses prior to a criminal trial’ is clear that the best interests of the child are paramount when deciding whether, and in what form, therapeutic help is given.
We know that the possibility of intrusive requests for third party material can be a big concern for victims of rape or sexual offences. In the Government’s cross-cutting Rape Review Action Plan, we set out our commitment to improve confidence in the criminal justice system, and to ensure requests for third party material are both appropriate and proportionate to the needs of the case. The Attorney General’s Office’s recent review of Disclosure found that too much third-party material, including victims counselling and therapy notes, were being accessed as part of investigations. The revised Disclosure Guidelines, published May 2022, introduced increased privacy protections for victims. Pre-trial therapy notes will now only be accessed in the rare circumstances that they are absolutely necessary to a reasonable line of inquiry. This ensures significant protections for victims while maintaining a fair trial. The Pre-Trial Therapy Guidance also sets out the limits to accessing intimate victim records for investigators. This guidance directs officers to consult with therapists prior to seeking access and helps to ensure that only the minimum necessary information is accessed. It makes clear that there is no need to delay therapy or counselling for any reason connected with a criminal investigation or prosecution.