Chapter 1
Scope, approach, and context of this review

Structure and overview of Report

1.49This Report is divided into four parts.

Part A Introduction

1.50Chapter 1 sets out the scope and history of the review and our approach to reform. Chapter 2 gives an overview of the available statistics relating to the prevalence and harm of sexual violence and rates of reporting.

Part B CourtsTop

1.51Part B examines the trial process. Chapter 3 sets out the pre-trial and trial process from beginning to end, covering the filing of charges, preparation for trial, prosecution either in the District Courts or the High Court and appeal. Chapter 4 examines the issues with the current trial process from the perspective of complainants and sets out targeted law reform recommendations, including the speed of disposal of cases involving sexual violence, how sexual violence complainants give evidence at trial, and court-based supports available to complainants. Chapter 5 makes recommendations for court specialisation, including through the establishment of a specialist sexual violence court to be implemented as a pilot at District Court level in the first instance. Chapter 6 considers whether the jury should be replaced as the “fact-finder” in cases involving sexual violence and ultimately recommends no change at present but that further exploration of alternative fact-finders should take place as part of an evaluation of the specialist sexual violence court.

Part C Alternatives to trialTop

1.52Part C proposes an alternative justice process that sits outside the existing criminal justice system and court-mandated restorative justice processes. Chapter 7 makes the case for this formalised alternative, referring to the distinct justice needs of sexual violence victims, and that these may be able to be met in ways other than through the criminal justice system.43 Chapter 8 addresses some particularly complex issues associated with a proposal of this kind, and Chapter 9 sets out the reform proposal.

1.53Part C recommends that victims of sexual violence have the option of an alternative process as well as, or as an alternative to, making a complaint that would go through the criminal justice system and to trial. Victims would be able to contact an accredited programme provider who could offer a programme to the victim and/or the perpetrator with the goal of achieving a sense of justice for the victim through the programme and allowing a perpetrator to take responsibility for his or her actions and, where relevant, make redress. We recommend that, where a perpetrator satisfactorily participates in and completes the process, there would be a statutory bar to subsequent criminal prosecution for the same incident of sexual violence.

Part D Support for victimsTop

1.54In Part D, we consider the scope and nature of non-justice support services for victims of sexual violence in New Zealand and ask whether reforms can be made to better encourage and prepare victims to engage with a criminal trial or an alternative process.

1.55Chapters 10 and 11 examine whether reform is required and conclude that there are areas where support for victims can be improved. Chapter 12 sets out our recommendation that government assume a leadership role in the sexual violence support sector by undertaking responsibility for coordinating the services provided and by promoting communication and consultation across the sector. This may be done through the establishment of a new government entity, which we recommend take the form of an independent commission. In addition to coordinating the sector, we identify three key functions for such a commission of:

(a) establishing a dedicated sexual violence research unit;

(b) developing and implementing training and education programmes for those who work with sexual violence victims; and

(c) establishing and monitoring an accreditation system for those who work with sexual violence victims (which could also extend to the providers of the alternative justice processes and the programmes recommended in Part C).

43Daly “Reconceptualizing sexual victimization and justice”, above n 15.