RLC in the Media: More laws are not the answer: the case for restorative justice to address sexual assault

With conviction rates of just 2%, it is clear the justice system is failing victims of sexual assault.

The suggestion by NSW Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller, to introduce an app to track consent sparked heavy criticism in the debate around sexual assault. Samantha Lee, Police Accountability Solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre, suggests that there is a need to look internally at how the justice and police system could be better supporting victims.

Michael McGowan reports for The Guardian.

Lee said she believed police could do much more to help victims in the framework of the existing justice system, including being transparent about the internal operating procedures which guide officers beginning or ending an investigation into an alleged sexual assault.

Though she concedes that in her job she only sees the worst of police behaviour, Lee said it was common to see cases in which a woman who has made a formal statement to police never hears from officers again, or is told later that the incident will not be investigated without being given reasons.

“A lot of emphasis is put on reporting sexual assaults to police and then how that plays out in the courts, but that whole investigation process is opaque and often not transparent for the victim,” she said.

“There is often very little understanding or information given to women about how police come to decisions about their allegations. It can be quite traumatic – they’ve taken the significant step to make the allegation, give a statement, and they don’t hear anything back.”

Read the full article here. (The Guardian, 20 March 2021)