Today LimeCulture publishes new findings about unfair questioning of victims about previous sexual history in sexual offence trials.
A survey into Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) and court cases that they have attended over a two-year period – April 2015 – April 2017 – has revealed that Section 41 of the Youth Justice Crime and Evidence Act 1999 is not always being applied in line with Government guidelines.
As a result, LimeCulture – the leading national sexual violence training and development organisation – and Baroness Newlove , the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales are recommending independent legal representation and advice to be made available for complainants in cases where the defence wish to introduce questioning about their previous sexual history, to ensure Section 41 is applied correctly.
Section 41 was introduced in 1999 to protect victims from unfair questioning about their previous sexual history during court proceedings. According to the findings from this new research, proper processes relating to Section 41 JYCEA 1999 were not applied consistently across England and Wales.
The findings also show that complainants are not consistently informed about the intention to question them about their sexual history, which could also mean there is no opportunity for the prosecution to challenge this or to take instructions or to call witnesses to challenge the facts of the sexual history being discussed. As victims of sexual crime do not have access to independent legal representation it is up to the judge or prosecution to ensure Section 41 is upheld correctly. This is not happening in all cases.
The report can be found here.
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