It has been revealed that children and teenagers in Britain were made to feel like criminals and accused of wasting police time, when they informed authorities that they had been sexually or physically abused. In some cases, the young person's story simply wasn't believed.
As a result, Victims' Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, has published a review titled, Are We Getting it Right for Young Victims of Crime?, which shockingly found that children and teenagers were made to feel like criminals themselves.
Baroness Newlove makes reference to several high profile sex abuse cases within her report, adding that careful consideration needed to be made and lessons learnt from what happened.
"It seems that lessons are still not being learnt about believing young victims when they come forward and taking them seriously," Baroness Newlove said in the report.
Twelve females aged between nine and 17 were interviewed about the handling of reports of sexual or violent crimes. The report highlighted that many family members of sex abuse victims did not feel like they were treated with dignity or respect.
Girls who had been abused, claimed that they felt they had to "prove themselves" or were "prodded like a monkey in a cage."
As a result of the experience these young people had, when they did report the crime, many of them felt that if they suffered the same fate again, they would be reluctant to report it to the police out of fear of not being believed a second time. Participants were also frustrated at the lack of information and updates given to them by the authorities in relation to their case.
Some complained that they did not receive or were not informed about all of their entitlements under the Victims' Code (Code of Practice for Victims of Crime), which is a is a statutory document that sets out the services and information victims of crime are entitled to from criminal justice agencies, such as the police and courts — from the moment they report a crime, to the end of the trial.
In one rape case, a teenage girl was interviewed by male officers on three separate occasions despite asking for a woman officer each time, according to the report.
"These children and young victims feel let down by the system that is meant to protect them. It is time attitudes towards them were changed," Baroness Newlove said.
"I want to see agencies working together to make sure young and vulnerable victims feel supported through the criminal justice process," she added.
The Victims' Commissioner has said that she will continue to review compliance of the Victims' Code and highlight her findings to the government.