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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

Support for Victims and Witnesses

Being a victim or a witness to a crime is not easy, but, with your help, we work hard to bring offenders to justice. Throughout the justice process we will support you and treat you with dignity.

The aim of witness care units is to provide a single point of contact for Victims and Witnesses, minimising the stress of attending court and keeping  victims and witnesses up to date with any news in a way that is convenient to them.

Witnesses are essential to successful prosecutions and we are committed to making the process as straightforward as we can.

Read the fact sheet about witness care units

Find out more about being a witness

DPP statement following Clifford case

02/05/2014

Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said: "The prosecution in this case has proved Max Clifford's guilt beyond reasonable doubt and the jury in this case decided that they were sure Max Clifford was guilty on eight of the eleven counts brought to court. He has rightly been held to account and sentenced today for his crimes.

"The prosecution was built with evidence demonstrating a pattern of behaviour where unconnected victims told of strikingly similar experiences over a number of years. I would like to thank all the victims for coming forward and giving evidence in difficult circumstances.

"Research is clear that sexual offences are severely under-reported and I want to provide reassurance to any victim that the CPS will continue to make decisions based on the evidence and in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We will work with the police and victims to build strong cases which we can put before the court no matter when the alleged offending took place or was reported. I hope this provides other victims with the courage and confidence to come forward and report abuse that may have happened to them, no matter who is alleged to have carried out the abuse or when.

"The CPS regularly gains convictions in non-recent sexual abuse cases up and down the country which go unreported yet this case, alongside a few others, have attracted much more attention. For the CPS there is no difference - we apply the same tests in every case no matter who the defendant is. That is the criminal justice system working effectively.

"The independence of the CPS means that our decision making is at all times fair, impartial and without prejudice and we will pursue such prosecutions resolutely and robustly no matter who the suspect is."

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are four national casework divisions: Central Fraud, Welfare Rural & Health, Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. A 'virtual' 14th Area is CPS Direct which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2013 we employed a workforce of approximately 6840 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2350 prosecutors and 4110 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  4. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.