CPS launches consultations on Rape and Domestic Violence policies

11/08/2008

The Crown Prosecution Service has launched two public consultations focusing on how it handles rape cases and cases of domestic violence.

The Crown Prosecution Service has launched two public consultations focusing on how it handles rape cases and cases of domestic violence. Revisions to both policies are needed following changes in the law, procedure and other developments since they were last published several years ago.

Baljit Ubhey, Chief Crown Prosecutor of Thames Valley, said: We are committed to improving the way we deal with rape and domestic violence cases, which are among the most serious crimes we deal with.

The rape and domestic violence policies are an important part of the CPS Violence Against Women Strategy, which sets out how we deal with crimes of violence against women. These crimes not only have a devasting impact on the victims but on their friends and families as well.

Revising our policies means we make sure they are current and relevant. They set out for victims, their families, witnesses, and the general public what they can expect from the CPS and that our aim is to prosecute cases effectively. We welcome the views of the public to help us achieve this.

Among the changes to the two policies are:

  •  The introduction of Witness Care Units
  • The publication of the Victims Code
  • Special measures for victims and witnesses
  • The roll out of Specialist Domestic Violence Courts

People are asked to respond to questions throughout the two documents, such as how clear the policies are or if there is enough detail. They are invited to suggest ways the policies could be made clearer, any changes to be made, or if there needs to be more information.

The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, said: "I am proud that we have achieved a step-change in the way we address domestic violence over recent years, and the CPS has played a pioneering role in this area. Their updated policy reflects changes since 2005 such as the roll-out of statutory charging, better training for CPS staff, special domestic violence courts and measures for victims and witnesses which together have brought about substantial improvement.
"There is much more to do, but we are succeeding in reducing the prevalence of domestic violence and the number of related homicides. The increase in successful convictions up to 70 per cent is a significant improvement against the background of an increasing volume of prosecutions."

The Solicitor General, Vera Baird QC MP said Rape is an appalling crime. We are consulting on this policy in keeping with the significant steps taken by the government to improve justice for complainants.

Victim care is now managed by dedicated units; pre trial witness interviews are available and improved special measures ensure that a witness can give their evidence at its best. Perhaps most importantly, we have introduced Independent Sexual Violence Advisors who befriend a complainant and support her together with the rape specialist prosecutors and police officers throughout the process.

Our aim is clear. All parts of the criminal justice system must work together to ensure that these cases are properly investigated and well prepared and rape complainants have the confidence to go through with the prosecution process to get justice.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For further information contact Jacqui Broadbridge, CPS Thames Valley Comms Dept, on 01189 513640
  2. Most of the changes incorporated into the rape consultation paper are to be found in the section dealing with victims and witnesses. New initiatives that are covered here include:
    • Witness Care Units
    • Special measures meetings
    • Pre-trial witness interviews
    • Independent Sexual Violence Advisers
    • The Victims Code
    • The Prosecutors Pledge.
  3. Changes incorporated into the domestic violence consultation paper include:
    • the roll-out of statutory charging;
    • the training of CPS staff on domestic violence;
    • the implementation of new special measures for victims and witnesses;
    • the roll-out of specialist domestic violence courts (SDVCs), Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVAs), and multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs);
    • the publication of the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime and the Prosecutors Pledge; and
    • the introduction of Witness Care Units.
  4. There is no statutory offence of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a general term to describe a range of behaviour. The Government definition of domestic violence is: Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.
  5. The first comprehensive CPS policy and guidance on domestic violence was developed in 2001.  It was revised in 2004 and a second edition published in February 2005.  The first CPS Policy For Prosecuting Cases of Rape was published in 2004.
  6. The consultation paper on rape can be found at: www.cps.gov.uk/consultations/rape_index.html
  7. The consultation paper on domestic violence can be found at: www.cps.gov.uk/consultations/dv_index.html
  8. The Crown Prosecution Service is the authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  9. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 83.7% in 2006-2007. Further information can be found on our website: www.cps.gov.uk
  10. 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.  The Protocol is published on our website at: http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/agencies/mediaprotocol.html