Accessible Justice? Rape Victimisation and Psychosocial Disability
In a context in which research evidence indicates high rates of alleged sexual victimization amongst adults with psychosocial disabilities (PSD), this paper sets out to explore some of the challenges that are posed to the criminal justice system by these types of complainants. We do so by drawing upon rape allegation data recently collected by the London Metropolitan Police Service over a two month period. Our analysis of this snapshot of Metropolitan Police rape reporting suggests that a significant number of rape complainants have recorded PSDs, and that these complainants are significantly more likely than those without recorded PSDs to experience additional, circumstantial vulnerabilities, including intellectual disability, alcohol and/or drug dependency, and repeat victimisation. Our findings also suggest that cases involving complainants with recorded PSDs are significantly more likely to suffer attrition – to ‘drop out’ of the criminal justice system - due to police or prosecutorial decision-making. In this paper we reflect upon possible explanations for this heightened attrition rate but also use our snapshot analysis as a stepping off point from which to highlight the need for more sustained critical research on the treatment of complainants, and the adequacy of police and prosecutor training and practice in this area.
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