A report launched at the beginning of June by the Victims' Services Advocates (VSA) has called for the police in London to be much more sensitive when listening to the victims of serious crimes, after highlighting findings that satisfaction with the police is extremely low.
According to the British Crime Survey of 2010/2011, victims are far less positive about the police and the criminal justice system than non-victims by and large, while only 50% of London victims rate the police service as good or excellent compared to 64% of non-victims.
The report, which was launched at the British Dental Association's headquarters with talks by authors Katy Taylor and Ellie Cumbo, as well as Joanne McCartney AM, Chair of the Police and Crime Committee, has recommended among other things that a victim consultation strategy is devised in addition to a formal listening strategy with victims and their advocates.
This will fall under the remit of the Mayor who will be accountable for the Met Police and replacing the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) with the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
Findings from the report draw attention to major service inconsistencies across the 32 boroughs of London (not including the City of London) for victims, which heavily impact upon an individual's needs assessment.
It is found that, despite London having a higher incidence rate than the national average for both personal and household crime, there is a worrying shortfall of services for young people, and too often is it assumed that a victims' needs can be assumed from the type of offence they have experienced.
Interviews with victims themselves emphasised the feeling that rape and sexual assault were still not being taken seriously enough by police and that the authorities were not working quick enough to respond to those suffering domestic abuse.
Channan, a service user who also addressed the report launch, spoke of her discomfort when the first person she spoke to after being a victim of rape was an unsympathetic male police officer who 'seemed like he was looking down his nose the whole time'.
She continued that every report needs to be taken seriously by the police, and that often there is the feeling that the police have a 'set standard of what a rape is, and how it can be treated [whereas] there is no one-version which stands up, or a one-size-fits-all approach for its victims'.
The VSA's findings are published alongside recent reports that hate crime is seeing resurgence. Last week a Freedom of Information request by the Independent newspaper found that disability hate crime had risen by 14 per cent on 2010 - leaving some to speculate on whether the coalition government's "anti-scrounger" rhetoric is fuelling that hostility.
1,942 disability hate crimes were recorded by police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year and the total figure has doubled since the start of the financial crisis of 2008.
In light of the view by Victim Support and their 2007 report, Hoodie or Goodie, that young victims often become young offenders in search of protection and/or justice - resulting from a lack of faith in the police to offer them either - the VSAs have called for MOPAC to place early intervention with young people at risk of victimisation on an equal footing as work with those at risk of offending, so as to better understand the possible link between victimisation and becoming a perpetrator of crime.
Other figures considered in the report show that rape and homophobic offences are the two crime types which have increased during May 2008-January 2012, recorded sexual offences have been rising since 2007 and around 113,000 women and girls aged 16-59 were victim of domestic abuse in the past year in London.
The full report can be downloaded free http://bit.ly/POkvtu
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