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sexual violence Just one third of rape and sexual assault victims reported crimes to gardaí

The figures come amid ongoing concern over what the centre describes as the 'poor' treatment of victims of sexual violence in the justice system

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Just over a third of rape and sexual assault victims who began using the services of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) last year reported the crimes committed against them to gardaí.

The figures, published today in its annual report for 2020, come amid ongoing concern over what the centre describes as the "poor" treatment of victims of sexual violence in the justice system.

The report also outlines that most new DRCC clients last year knew the person who raped or assaulted them.

The centre's counselling and therapy services had 570 clients in 2020, of which 268 were new in that year.

According to the report, just 36pc of those new clients had reported the crimes perpetrated against them to An Garda Síochána.

One factor in the low level of reporting is concern about difficulties complainants encounter during the investigation and trial process.

"Even the State has recognised the system does not serve victims well," said DRCC's CEO Noeline Blackwell.

"Victims of sexual abuse, including rape - when they go into the justice system have a very hard time - unnecessarily so.

"There are better ways of hearing them as their cases are investigated and prosecuted."

Various improvements were recommended by a review group chaired by barrister Tom O'Malley last year.

However, the recommendations have yet to be implemented.

The DRCC report called for the rapid implementation of a number of these, including specialised training for those interfacing with complainants in the justice system, wide-scale specialised accompaniment of complainants to court, appropriate physical court spaces and provisions for reducing delay.

During 2020, the centre received 13,438 contacts through its national helpline and delivered 6,010 one-on-one counselling and therapy sessions.

Many of these sessions had to be conducted online or by phone due to the pandemic.

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According to the report, the most stringent periods of restrictions had a dampening effect on contacts with the centre. This is because many callers did not have the time and space to access its helpline in privacy.

"Others could not call us safely because they were confined in the same space as their abuser or former abusers," the report said.

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