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Rape and Sexual Offences:         Chapter 22: Monitoring Rape Prosecutions



Rape is a highly emotive crime and CPS performance in prosecuting rape is frequently the subject of scrutiny from interested campaigning groups and the media and of questions to the Attorney General and Solicitor General in Parliament.

There have been two thematic inspections by Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and Her Majestys Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) into the investigation and prosecution of rape offences (2002 and 2006).  As a result of their findings they made a number of recommendations.

'Without Consent', the second report, stated in relation to both the police and CPS that, "In many respects, the policies are sound and in place. It is not a question of changing the approach, but of ensuring that what should be done is actually done in practice and that full effect is given to the existing sound good policies and good practice."
Without Consent: Joint Review of the Investigation and Prosecution of Rape Offences (PDF, 1.44 MB)

A key aim of monitoring rape files is to check that CPS policies and recognised good practice are being consistently applied.

Monitoring Files

Following the introduction of Core Quality Standards (CQS) in 2010, a new performance management framework was introduced to monitor compliance with the commitments set out in the standards. This takes the form of both a qualitative and quantitative assessment of performance. A proportion of rape cases will be captured by this scheme.

From January 2011, rape monitoring is included in a new Violence Against Women (VAW) Assurance system, requiring CPS Areas to report to the Chief Operating Officer on a six monthly exceptional basis, identifying any problems and producing an action plan for improvement. This involves an assessment of approximately 25% of their rape cases. See: the VAW Assurance Tool incorporating the Rape Monitoring Assurance Tool at  Appendix C of this guidance.

In addition to this qualitative assessment, the service continues to focus on quantitative measures including the volume of rape cases prosecuted and the percentage resulting in a successful outcome

The Essential Steps monitoring form issued in 2007,as part of a previous assurance regime for rape cases, may still be used by Areas (tailored as required) to assist with assessing levels of compliance with policies and good practice. See: Essential Steps Monitoring Form at Appendix B of this guidance.

Monitoring Advocates

Under an agreement between the CPS and the Criminal Bar Association in 2006, the CPS will only brief counsel from the self-employed Bar to prosecute rape cases if:
i) They have attended an accredited course
ii) They have high quality advocacy skills; and
iii) They perform satisfactorily in any monitoring which, from time to time, will be undertaken by the CPS.

A CPS Area wishing to undertake monitoring of counsel may use the Advocacy Skills Assessment form. See: Advocacy Skills Assessment form at Appendix A of this guidance.

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