"The Victim Experience in Focus", A study into the experiences of sexual crime complainants in the criminal justice system in Ireland. 

One in Four is today launching new research into the experience of 15 child sexual abuse survivors on their journey through the criminal justice system. 

The research found that

  • 46% of the participants had been abused in their own family
  • 33% of the participants had been abused by more than one perpetrator

A copy of the report can be found here

In relation to the decision to make a complaint, participants cited fear of upsetting family members.  Participants had very mixed experiences of making a statement to the Gardai, with some describing how upsetting and retraumatising this was.

In 5 cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to proceed the case to trial and participants described how this made them feel as if their experience did not matter.  Of the cases that proceeded to trial, a guilty plea was entered in 6 cases and 4 jury trials resulted in a conviction.  The research illustrates how difficult it is to be a complainant witness in a trial of sexual offences.  A common complaint was feeling on the periphery of the trial “a cog in the wheel”.  Giving evidence was also extremely stressful, as was the close proximity of the accused person to the survivor in court.

The research participants gave clear recommendations for reform within the criminal justice system, including the need for skilled support during the process, specialist trauma informed training for the gardai and all legal professionals, reducing delay in proceedings and a code of conduct governing the manner in which questioning can take place during a trial.

“The Victim Experience in Focus” was launched on Tuesday April 19th at 1.30 by webinar with presentations by Dr Susan Leahy of the University of Limerick and Naomi Gould, Advocacy Case Manager at One in Four who conducted the research.  

The research was funded by the IHREC.

A copy of the Launch webinar can be found below