Police chief demands review after rape complainant's death
Manchester's police and crime commissioner calls for an urgent "root and branch reform" of how alleged victims and witnesses are treated after a woman fell to her death from a Rochdale car park days after a man accused of raping her was acquitted.
We've learnt a great deal looking at the cases in Oxford and Rochdale and the way that vulnerable women endure giving evidence and Britain has introduced shorter time in the witness box and allowed evidence via videolink.
There is progress, but, campaigners are saying to me tonight, not enough.
Judges and prosecutors need to have special training in these cases and that does not yet extend to defence barristers.
All of this is being driven by a wider cultural change about the way witnesses are seen in cases like this.
Sir Peter Fahy has said that some people find the court process more traumatic than the original offence they claim to have suffered.
The Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable said:
"We may have to look at the whole system of justice and the way that we deal with victims who've been through such an awful process. Because clearly for some they are finding the court process almost more traumatic than the original offence that they were subject to."
Tony Lloyd, the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, says more help should have been offered to Tracy Shelvey.
Ms Shelvey died after falling from a car park roof in Rochdale.
"You've got to believe that the trauma of going through the trial process twice, of all she went through, whatever the validity of the verdict of the court, was an enormous ordeal and we've got to help people like Tracy better than we did do."
Tony Lloyd said lessons had to be learned from the incident:
This can't go on - a root and branch review of how victims and witnesses are treated is urgently needed.
A chain of vulnerability exists from the moment someone reports an incident to police, and it can break at any point.
We need to ensure that victims and witnesses are surrounded by support from when they report to police, throughout the investigation, the court process and - critically - after trial is over, whether the accused is found guilty or innocent.
And we all need to work much better together to ensure that victims and witnesses get the support they need, when they need it.
Greater Manchester Police said the matter had been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and a full investigation will be launched to establish the circumstances surrounding Ms Shelvey's death.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson has offered the department's sympathies to the family of a woman who fell to her death from a car park roof just days after a man accused of raping her was acquitted following a trial.
She added: "We know that going to court can be intimidating and sometimes distressing and want to ensure the entire system is doing everything it can to support people through this process, and ensure justice is done."
She went on: "There are already numerous special measures available to help vulnerable witnesses give evidence - such as using screens or video link - but we know sometimes more could be done.
"That is why we are trialling an important new way of sparing vulnerable witnesses the trauma of appearing in court through pre-trial cross examination."We have also overhauled the Victims' Code so people know what to expect and who to demand help from every step of the way."
I would firstly like to offer my condolences to the family of the woman who has sadly died. Our thoughts are with the family at what is clearly a traumatic time for them and we will be offering them as much support and welfare as they need over the coming days and weeks.
The woman had been a complainant in a case that recently concluded at court, and throughout that process specially-trained officers from Greater Manchester Police had been providing her with regular support and advice.
This is a terribly sad end to what has been a long and difficult case.
A full investigation will be carried out to establish the circumstances leading up to this woman's death and it is important, especially for the woman's family, that we do not speculate about what may have happened until all the facts are known.