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Fears over anonymity plan for rape cases

PUBLISHED: 13:22 27 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:44 23 August 2010

GOVERNMENT plans to grant rape defendants anonymity have been met with surprise by bosses at a counselling service for victims of sex abuse. The proposal was unveiled by the new coalition government, despite a recent report by Baroness Stern saying more

GOVERNMENT plans to grant rape defendants anonymity have been met with surprise by bosses at a counselling service for victims of sex abuse.

The proposal was unveiled by the new coalition government, despite a recent report by Baroness Stern saying more research was needed before any change in approach.

Mary Trevillion, clinical director at Family Matters, in Gravesend, pointed to a recent report by Baroness Stern, saying more research was needed on the idea.

She said: "I understand this can destroy people's lives but we have a system in place where if someone makes a false allegation we can prosecute them.

"Only 14 to 20 per cent of victims come forward and this plan could discourage this. That's a real concern."

After asking victims the charity had supported of their views, she added: "I spoke to two people who have gone through the criminal justice system.

"One felt it was outrageous. She felt that even if he did not get convicted his name would be known to warn others. And she thought it would encourage other potential victims to come forward.

"The second understands the concept of innocent until prove guilty. She also said she would not want the man named in her case as it could identify her."

The proposal was not in the Liberal Democrat or Conservative manifesto, but has been a Lib-Dem policy.

There are currently no restrictions on naming defendants who are over 18-years-old.

The Ministry of Justice would not be drawn on how the proposal would be applied, but said: "This is a sensitive area and careful analysis of the options and implications will be undertaken."

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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