Rape survivors will no longer face unnecessary and invasive requests from the police to access their therapy notes as a result of a lobbying campaign by the counselling and psychotherapy sector.
An amendment to the government's Victims and Prisoners Bill will set out that police should only request material that is absolutely necessary and proportionate to ensure victims aren't put off seeking vital support.
This will end fishing expeditions for information that often aren’t relevant to the investigation and used to undermine the credibility of the victim.
The change gives greater clarity to victims and the police about when information can be requested and provides survivors with the confidence to access therapy earlier without fear notes could be used against them in court.
It comes after we co-signed a letter urging the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to rethink its guidance on pre-trial therapy which increased the likelihood rape survivors’ private therapy notes will be accessed by prosecutors.
The letter was also signed by the British Psychological Society (BPS), the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society (NCPS) and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
We’ve also been part of a wider campaign to Keep Counselling Confidential led by Rape Crisis, the Centre for Women’s Justice and End Violence Against Women Coalition.
Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Lead, said: “We’re delighted with this outcome. It will enable victims and survivors of rape to feel more assured that their notes won’t be automatically requested and used against them in court as a way of undermining their credibility.
“It will allow counsellors to create an even safer space by removing the fear their counselling hasn’t been entirely confidential.
“We know this has resulted in many survivors of rape being hesitant to engage in counselling as they balance either seeking justice or engaging in therapeutic help.
“This much higher threshold goes some way to safeguarding their right to privacy as well as restoring faith in the criminal justice system.’’
Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk MP KC, said: “This important reform will end invasive unnecessary requests for therapy notes for rape victims and give them the confidence to seek the help they need earlier, free from the fear that what they share in the process of healing could be weaponised against them.”