Attorney General visits victim-focused Crown Prosecution Service programme in Liverpool

18/02/2015

The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP, visited the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Liverpool on Wednesday 18 February.

During his visit he attended the Crown Court in Liverpool to observe a witness give evidence on camera as part of the Section 28 pilot scheme.  The cross examination is done as soon as possible after the alleged offence, away from open court and is then shown as evidence at trials. This makes the process of being cross-examined far less distressing for the victim meaning they can give evidence a lot sooner, have less time to worry about it and their recollection of events is fresher.  The Attorney  also received briefings on the work of the domestic violence prosecutors and the complex casework unit.

Jeremy Wright said:

"We are almost at the end of the 10-month pilot which allows vulnerable victims and witnesses to give their evidence away from the intense atmosphere of a live courtroom, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the results.

"This pilot made it possible for the criminal justice system to better focus on the needs of victims as they cope and recover from the traumatic effects of crime, and it shows the deep commitment of the Crown Prosecution Service to obtain the best possible evidence to present in court.

"The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Mersey-Cheshire is currently top of the overall CPS performance tables. The conviction rates in the Crown Court and Magistrates Court units are currently the best in the country as is the conviction rate for Violence Against Women and Girls. 

"The Area has also been a trail-blazer in the prosecution of violence against women and girls."

In 2010, Mersey-Cheshire CPS created the countrys first ever units dedicated to the prosecution of rape and sexual offences (RASSO)
RASSO work is undertaken in joint units with the police, based in Mather Avenue, Liverpool and Cheshire Police HQ in Winsford. In these units, specially trained prosecutors and police officers work side by side on both recent and non-recent cases of rape and sexual abuse.

CPS Mersey-Cheshire also has a specialist Domestic Violence team of trained advocates and dedicated preparation prosecutors who are experts in dealing with the more complex dynamics of Domestic Abuse.

Alison Mutch, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said:

"Mersey-Cheshire is currently the best performing area of the Crown Prosecution Service and were proud to welcome the Attorney General here.

"We have been pioneers in several initiatives in recent years to improve the experiences of victims and witnesses in the Criminal Justice System.

"One of the key ways to do that is to build the strongest cases possible from the start so that the defendants plead guilty and the victims dont have to face a trial.

"If they do, we are committed to helping and supporting them throughout the process. Measures like those in the Section 28 pilot can be immensely valuable, making the cross examination of vulnerable victims and witnesses less distressing, so they can give the best evidence possible.

"So far, we have had 157 cases that have been considered suitable for the pilot, many are still going through the system but we have already secured 35 convictions and some hefty sentences."