Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has said there is a need for urgent reform to the criminal justice system to properly deal with cases of sexual offences.
She was commenting after a senior police officer said delays in getting cases to courts are causing some victims to withdraw from the criminal justice process.
Sandra Duffy said:
“While the level of reporting has increased in the north of Ireland over the last year, it is still unacceptably low.
“Ultimately any rape is one too many and reporting a rape or sexual assault is always going to be a traumatic and difficult experience.
“For those who do report to the police, the path was harrowing, leading to many abandoning their complaint and low conviction rates.
“Delays in the criminal justice system in relation to serious sexual offences has been identified as a major problem here for many years.
“Victims should not be let down by the system.
“This needs urgent reform and is a key component of a review being carried out by Judge Gillen to examine the law and procedure surrounding serious sexual offences. He recently published his preliminary report to which Sinn Féin will be submitting a response.
“I would encourage others to do the same. Any positive recommendations from this review should be properly resourced.”