New online guide for victims of sexual violence

A new online guide(external link) has been launched to help victims of sexual violence, their families/ whānau and supporters understand the justice process.

Launched by Under-Secretary, Jan Logie MP, the guide will also support Court Victims’ Advisors in their work.

In 2015, the Law Commission Te Aka Matua O te Ture Report: The Justice Response to Victims of Sexual Violence - Criminal Trials and Alternative Processes(external link) highlighted concerns about the impact of the justice system on victims.

Further research [PDF, 1.6 MB], based on interviews with victims, identified areas of the justice process that caused them the most pain and their experience of the justice system could be improved.

The online guide recognises that people will need different information at different times and provides plain language explanations of processes and legal terms. By equipping them and their family, whānau and supporters with this information, we hope to reduce the stress associated with going through the court system.

The guide is part of a wider package of work to improve victims’ experience of the justice system, which will include:

  • training for frontline Justice people on how to provide safe and appropriate responses to people affected by family violence and/or sexual violence;
  • further research and evaluation including additional interviews with victims of sexual violence to understand their personal experiences of the justice system to help inform and improve operational changes; and
  • improving in-court facilities for victims; 

The Solicitor-General is in the process of developing new guidelines for the prosecution of sexual violence cases, which are expected to take effect in the middle of next year. Crown Law will provide training on the Guidelines to Crown Solicitors and Police Prosecutors prior to them taking effect.

The evaluation of victims’ experiences helps establish a baseline against which operational improvements will be measured.

“The Ministry plans an evaluation of its operational improvements to ensure it is not unintentionally revictimizing people,” said Wayne Newall, Manager, Implementation for Commissioning and Service Improvement.

“This latest qualitative research provides important insights into the experiences of some our most vulnerable customers. It has given us valuable insights that we will use to improve the services we deliver within the justice process. We anticipate repeating this research in 2020/ 21 to assess progress on improving the justice system,” said Mr Newall.

Mr Newall said he wanted to thank social research company Gravitas for organising the fieldwork for this report, and those Court Victim Advisors who helped arranged for victim’s participation in this important research.

“Along with modern law and whole-of-government efforts to create an integrated system, operational improvements play an important part in improving the response to victims of sexual violence. This online guide is a positive step in the right direction and the research provides us with a deeper understanding of the experiences of victims and where change is most needed.”

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