Attrition and progression: reported sexual violence victimisations in the criminal justice system

Sexual assault Sexual abuse victims Child sexual abuse Access to justice New Zealand

The New Zealand Government is focused on improving the justice response for victims of sexual violence. Sexual violence is prevalent in New Zealand, with a quarter of adults experiencing it sometime in their lives. However, only a small proportion is reported to Police, and of those reported only a small proportion results in conviction.

Trends for people charged with or convicted of sexual violence offences are reasonably well understood. However, the same cannot be said for sexual violence victims and the experiences they report to Police; where research has been undertaken it has not provided a complete view.

The Wellbeing Budget 2019 included funding to support initiatives to prevent and respond to sexual violence. As a result, it is anticipated that over time more people will report victimisations to Police, more will progress to court following investigation, and more perpetrators will be convicted.

This research quantifies the proportion of reported sexual violence victimisations that currently progress through the justice system to a conviction. Additionally, it aims to determine if differences exist over time, for children and young people, adults reporting historic childhood offences, different offence types, Māori and different perpetrator relationship types. An initial analysis of the time taken to progress through the system is also undertaken.

A large-scale analysis of this type has not previously been undertaken in New Zealand. It differs from previous research, in that it includes all sexual violence victimisations reported to Police over a four-year period and includes both adult and child victims.

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