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Three-quarters of rape survivors and sexual assault survivors in England and Wales said their mental health was damaged “as a direct result of what police did, or failed to do”, according to researchers.

The Home Office-funded survey, with 1,968 responses gathered over five and a half months, exposes multiple failures in the policing of serious sexual crimes.

Women described feeling more traumatised by their experience with the police than they had been by the original rape. Only 14% of respondents said they felt safer as a result of what the police did, while 39% said they felt less safe.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “The responses to the survey are truly damning, with the experiences of some victims sadly denying them the chance to move forward with their lives. It’s clear more needs to be done by police forces across England and Wales to ensure victims get the professional service they expect and deserve.

“As PCC, I regularly hear from victims in West Mercia about the horrific crimes they have suffered and their experiences in the criminal justice system. As Chair of the Local Criminal Justice Board, I am bringing together local partners, including West Mercia Police, to look at how improvements can be made so victims are not further harmed when they report a crime.

“I know the vast majority of officers in West Mercia Police are hard-working and want victims to receive the best possible service. I will continue to back them with the resources and tools they need to deliver for victims while investing in specialist support services to help victims cope and recover.

“The responses to the survey highlight there is still much more that needs to be done. I am committed to ensuring the changes victims are calling for are at the heart of progress in the criminal justice system in West Mercia.”