Executive summary

Support for victims

27Part D is concerned with the assistance provided by the sexual violence support sector, including government departments with responsibilities in the field of sexual violence. We consider what gaps exist in the support provided; whether these gaps have a negative impact on victim engagement with the criminal justice system; and whether closing those gaps could have a positive impact on the extent to which victims engage with the justice system, whether in a criminal trial or in an alternative process.

28We conclude that improvements are required in how support services are coordinated, in order to ensure that the support of community and government based agencies “wraps around” and addresses the unique needs of each victim. In particular, government has a greater role to play in leading and supporting the sexual violence support sector to coordinate services, to lead research on sexual violence, and to professionalise the workforce through training, education, accreditation, and quality monitoring.

29As such, in Part D the Law Commission recommends that the Government establish an independent commission for sexual violence. We suggest that a commission is the ideal mechanism through which government and the sexual violence response sector can robustly engage with one another. In Chapter 12 we set out our proposal that such a commission could be established by statute in the form of an independent Crown entity. We suggest that it should perform three core functions in the area of research, training/education, and monitoring of the quality of services provided. We also emphasise the need for a commission of this kind to fulfil its functions independently of government, to consult with the sector, and to represent a cross-section of society.