Law Commission: better support systems are required for victims

First, we consider that a specialist sexual violence court, however formally constituted, is required, and potentially as a division of the District Court.

Second, the hard fact of the matter, as so many of our consultees put to us, is that an alternative system outside the present criminal justice system is also required. Sir Owen Woodhouse once said of the then workers’ compensation regime that we could fix some things, but the workers’ compensation system would still leave many disenfranchised. So it is with this subject area. We have therefore in this Report gone further and explored what such an alternative system might look like. The aim is certainly not to displace the criminal justice system. Indeed, it is to be hoped that the system will be improved with the reforms we have recommended. But real innovation is required.

Third, better support systems are required for victims, and we have made suggestions under this heading.

Finally, this exercise merits repeating the wise words of Sir Owen 50 years ago: “… [i]f there may seem to be a weight of tradition against change, at least it is worth remembering that the apparent heresies of one generation become the orthodoxies of the next. The ultimate validity of any social measure will depend not upon its antecedents but upon its current and future utility.”*

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