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Sexual Offences

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 updated the law, much of which dated back to 1956.

The main provisions of the Act include the following:

  • Rape is widened to include oral penetration
  • Significant changes to the issue of consent
  • Specific offences relating to children under 13, 16 and 18
  • Offences to protect vulnerable persons with a mental disorder
  • Other miscellaneous offences
  • Strengthening the notification requirements and providing new civil preventative orders

Find out more about how we prosecute sexual offences

The Role of The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, we are responsible for:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police
  • determining any charges in more serious or complex cases
  • preparing cases for court
  • presenting cases at court

Find out more about the role of the Crown Prosecution Service

DPP responds to Criminal Justice Joint Inspection on rape


The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC said: "I am pleased the report recognises the progress made by the CPS in dealing with rape cases. In particular, the inspectors say there was good analysis of rape cases by the CPS and that most of the rape charging decisions reviewed were well considered and very detailed.

"The report highlights that early contact in these cases between police and prosecutor has clear benefits; it helps in building strong cases and tackling legal issues to help with the smooth running of a prosecution. This is something that we have taken on board from previous reports and implemented. We will continue to build on this so that effective prosecutions go ahead.

"The report makes two recommendations in relation to the CPS. The first relates to finding a more efficient way of identifying material that could be used for bad character or hearsay applications, an outcome the CPS would welcome and one we will explore with the police. The second, on protocols to improve the sharing of information held by third parties, is an action on which the CPS is already working.

"This report makes clear that we cannot be complacent; that while we have become more observant to the needs of victims there is still room for improvement in building strong cases against perpetrators. I am determined we will do this."