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Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Functioning and Effectiveness: Findings From the National SART Project

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2015
73 pages
This report presents findings and methodology from a study that obtained high-quality information on Sexual Assault Response Teams' (SARTs') operations and effectiveness.
The study conducted phone interviews with leaders or long-time members of a random sample of 172 SARTs. It found that SARTs vary in their structure and in the communities and populations they serve. Most gave high priority to improving the quality and accessibility of services for sexual assault victims and improving their treatment by sexual-assault responders. Other goals relate to improving criminal justice system outcomes for sexual assault cases and providing prevention/education. The majority of SARTs engaged in multidisciplinary case review, multidisciplinary cross-training, and policy/protocol adoption and review; however, only 15 percent of SARTs engaged in program evaluation that involved systematic data collection and analysis. Regarding SARTs' effectiveness, study participants rated their perceptions of the extent to which their team contributed to a variety of improvements in the following areas: 1) victims' help-seeking experiences (accessibility and quality of services, how victims are treated by responders); 2) police processing of sexual assault cases (e.g., investigation and referrals); 3) prosecution of sexual assault cases (e.g., conviction rates and quality of medical forensic evidence); and 4) victims' participation in the criminal justice system (willingness to report victimization, providing full disclosure during interviews, etc.). Respondents' ratings for these areas ranged from 1 (not at all) to 5 (to a great extent). On average, the SARTs that perceived themselves as more effective in these domains engaged in multidisciplinary cross-training and regular reviews of policy/protocol, and used more formal structures in organizing their team. In addition, SARTs with broader active membership among sexual assault stakeholder groups tended to perceive themselves as more effective in improving the criminal justice system's processing of sexual assault cases. Numerous charts and data on each interview question

Date Published: May 1, 2015