The suicide of twins has prompted police to examine how young victims are treated.
The suicides of twin sisters who claimed authorities they had been sexually assaulted for years prompted a change in the way juvenile crime victims are treated.
In September 2018, Sam Gould, 16, died of an overdose, while her sister Chris, aged 17, was killed by a train in January 2019.
Her inquest heard that both girls felt “invalidated” after learning un December 2016 that their alleged abuser would not be prosecuted.
They told officers that they had been sexually molested since they were five years old and into their adolescence.
They identified the accused abuser, but they were suffering from mental illness at the time and were unable to provide video evidence.
The case was terminated by Hampshire Police in late 2016, despite the fact that the alleged abuser was never interviewed.
Assistant coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Nicholas Moss QC, expressed concern that there had been “no follow-up” by police, leaving up the possibility of providing an account at a later date for use as evidence.
He also said that there was no direction on how to connect with alleged child sex abuse victims who were “both suffering from mental illness and first unwilling to furnish an evidentiary narrative.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) child protection head, Ian Critchley, acknowledged that the inquests “had revealed a gap” in national advice.
As a result, the Authorised Professional Practice of the College of Policing, which applies to all UK forces, has changed.
Investigators should now “sensitively endeavour to establish why [victims]are reluctant [to give testimony]and, where possible, take steps to mitigate these reasons and provide reassurance,” according to the new instructions.
It further states that “where appropriate,” victims and witnesses should be given the opportunity to reconsider their decision.
“The gap was that once the girls were first unwilling to give evidence, nobody checked back with them,” said Jane Cannon, the twins’ mother from Fulbourn, Cambs.
“No one asked, ‘Are you ready to fight for justice right now?’” She was relieved to learn that the NPCC had discovered and addressed the same problem as the coroner.
She went on to say that the police advice that claimed victims of sexual assault should not disclose their ordeal with anyone else, including therapists, was still in effect, regardless of “whether that’s the best thing for the victim and the victim’s family.”
The authorities are debating whether or not there is a threat.Brinkwire Summary News