Regulation & Government

CPS to ‘narrow gap’ on rape and sexual offence prosecutions

CPS said a ‘wide-ranging action plan’ is now under way to improve the “crucial” relationship between itself and the police on the matter

The Crown Prosectution Service and police have announced they are partnering to “reaffirm” their commitment to rape victims and work “more collaboratively from the outset of investigations” to increase the number of cases that reach court.

CPS said a “wide-ranging action plan” is now under way to improve the “crucial” relationship between itself and the police on the matter. 

Alongside the National Police Chiefs’ Council, it is launching an additional “collaborative commitment” to build stronger rape prosecutions, increase the number of victims getting their say in court and minimise the time taken to reach a charging decision.

It comes as a Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorate report into the police and CPS response to rape found there “needs to be a fundamental change in how the two parties work together on these cases”.

The new approach will aim to outline how the CPS and investigators work together more closely from the outset of rape and serious sexual assault (RASSO) cases through increased use of Early Advice.

This is where police can consult a prosecutor on investigative strategy from the beginning of a case and talk through the evidence needed to build and strengthen it. It reportedly helps officers build strong cases by focusing the investigation on what is relevant and avoiding unnecessary enquiries into what is not.

Sue Hemming, CPS director of Legal Services, said: “Rape is a devastating and life-changing crime and our prosecutors come to work to bring offenders to justice whenever the legal test is met.

“We welcome today’s inspection report, which found our specialist prosecutors are committed to achieving justice for victims and are making legally correct decisions in the vast majority of cases.”

She added: “However, the CPS accepts far too few victims are currently seeing their cases reach court and we are working hard to turn this around, including addressing many of this report’s recommendations.

“We agree closer collaboration and communication with police from the outset of a rape complaint is essential to driving up the number of strong prosecutions and that a blame culture serves no one. Today’s agreement builds on our continued efforts to achieve better justice for victims.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Rape/Temporary Chief Constable Sarah Crew, said: “We are committed to improving the police response to rape and get victims the justice they deserve. Together with the CPS we are implementing a joint action plan which aims to increase the number of cases being taken to court and the number of offenders being sent to prison.

“Our plan is wide ranging and we are making good progress, but we all know there is much more to do. The new agreement between police and the CPS to work much closer in the very early days of an investigation will mean stronger cases from the get-go and should lead to a faster charging decision. This will, we hope, reduce the chance of a victim withdrawing their support.”

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