Eastenders Explores Criminal Process for Reporting Sexual Abuse

Posted on: 2 mins read
Jacob Shaw

Solicitor Graduate, Abuse

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Over the last few months, Eastenders has been running a storyline that shows character Ben Mitchell making the decision to disclose the sexual abuse he suffered in May to the police.

As Abuse Lawyers, we know it takes an immense amount of courage to report any kind of abuse and we’re glad to see a platform as large as the BBC shine a light on the criminal process. We hope that seeing what’s involved at each stage will encourage people watching to report their experiences to the police, too.

We’ll be following this storyline as it progresses and using our knowledge and experience of Abuse Law to break down each of the steps involved.

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Police Investigation

In a recent episode, it was confirmed that Ben’s rapist, Lewis Butler had been arrested and then bailed after insisting that it had been consensual. A worry that’s shared by many survivors of rape is that they will not be able to prove that what they experienced was sexual abuse. Unfortunately, this deters a lot of people from reporting the situation to the police.

But the accused being granted bail doesn’t necessarily mean that the case is dropped. The police will have conducted a thorough investigation, the details of which will be sent on to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide whether the person should be prosecuted.

The CPS will consider a number of factors in their decision, including:

  • The case for prosecution submitted by the police
  • If there are alternatives to prosecution that would have more benefit for the public
  • Whether the case has merit and it is ultimately in the public interest to prosecute

If the CPS decide there should be a prosecution, they will prepare and present a case against the accused in court. If the CPS don’t pursue a prosecution, you’ll be informed of the reasons why. You’ll also have the right to request a review under the Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) scheme.

Alternative Ways to Seek Justice after Suffering Sexual Abuse

We know that it can feel devastating to have made the steps to report sexual abuse to the police, only to be told that a prosecution won’t be made. But if you find yourself in this situation, there are other methods for seeking justice.

You may be able to bring forward a claim through the civil courts or the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) for example. If you’ve been told a prosecution won’t go ahead, submitting a claim could allow you the opportunity to bring legal action against the individual who abused you, or the organisation who employed them, without a conviction needing to have been made previously.

If you or a loved one has suffered sexual abuse, either recently or in the past, we could help you navigate the process of reporting it to the police as well as supporting you in accessing support and compensation through a civil claim.

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