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Interventions should be carried out to tackle ‘rape myths’ in the justice system, says Blair

Alliance MLA John Blair has said interventions should be carried out to tackle ‘rape myths’ throughout the justice system, including in policing.

The Policing Board member said incorrect beliefs about sexual crime impact upon policing, adding the police response to sexual assault reports and incidents should be regularly reviewed and assessed as a result. Mr Blair raised his concerns with the handling of serious sexual offences with Justice Minister Naomi Long in the Assembly yesterday (Tuesday).

“Significant work is required to dispel rape myths which can affect an officer’s approach to the victims and perpetrators they work with,” he said.

“Wrongly held beliefs should not be allowed to impact reactions from anyone in the justice system, including police, in cases of serious sexual assault. Assumptions such as wearing particular clothing or consuming alcohol are inexcusable in all circumstances. The same is true of other factors, such as the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, or how/whether the victim resisted the attack.

“I welcome the Minister’s response yesterday and in my capacity as a Policing Board member, I will work hard to ensure interventions are carried out to tackle ‘rape myths’ in the policing. We have lots of work still to do but it is vital we make progress in this area.”