Letter: How to investigate and report allegations of rape

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The Independent Online
Sir: We wonder whether some of the criticism directed at King's College concerning its internal investigation of the alleged rape case is not misplaced. Increasingly, public bodies - be they academic institutions or health authorities - are having to develop policies and procedures to deal with allegations of criminal acts, often involving sexual violence.

A policy of always reporting such incidents to the police can lead to the sort of institutional indifference that allowed some of the abuse detailed in the inquiry into the running of Ashworth special hospital to go unchecked. What if a victim of sexual violence does not want the police to be called in to investigate? Is there going to be an investigation without the co-operation of a key witness?

The establishment of a rigorous and fair investigative process, the use of outside investigators such as the Ombudsman and an adjudicating body that is designed to be fair to all participants, may well offer more satisfactory results to both victim and accused than a blanket policy of calling in the police to deal with every incident. Of course, serious allegations require external investigation, and more often than not those investigators have to be the police. But to assume that police involvement is the only way to protect both victim and accused is shortsighted, and may be particularly inappropriate in dealing with allegations of sexual assault.

Yours faithfully,

LUCY SCOTT-MONCRIEFF

ANTHONY HARBOUR

Brighton

21 October

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