How I'm going to improve the quality of rape prosecutions in Thames Valley by Baljit Ubhey, Chief Crown Prosecutor of Thames Valley

16/12/2010

The head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has just announced a series of measures to boost the quality of rape prosecutions across England and Wales. It's my job, as head of the CPS in Thames Valley to make sure that a consistent and first class service is delivered locally.

Rape is one of the cruellest and most degrading offences, and prosecuting it can be difficult. We are now redoubling our efforts to achieve the highest standards across the country. I hope the public in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire will have confidence that rape victims in this Area will be treated sensitively and that their attackers will be prosecuted robustly.

First and foremost, I want you all to know that budget cuts will not affect the quality that you should expect from our specialist rape prosecutors. Those prosecutors will still be given the time and training to ensure they are the very best they can be. And I will ensure that any decisions they make on whether or not to prosecute are based on the merits of the evidence.

There can be no room for decisions based on the assumption that a jury might hold certain misconceptions or be intolerant (examples include what the complainant might have been wearing, or what he or she may have had to drink when the alleged attack took place).

I will also be closely monitoring the communication between my lawyers and complainants of rape and sexual offences. They need to ensure they are speaking in language that everyone can understand, and in language that is sensitive to the recipient. Those found not to meet our high standards will be specifically shown how to do so by their manager.

In the New Year, the CPS will be consulting with charities and organisations with expertise on sexual offences and other violent crimes, as to how and when we charge individuals with the serious offence of perverting the course of justice, particularly when a rape complainant is suspected of falsely retracting his or her allegation.

Prosecuting a rape complainant for perverting the course of justice is unusual, and if such a case is being considered in this Area, the Director of Public Prosecutions has now asked that his approval is sought before any decision to prosecute is made.

Baljit Ubhey

Let me reassure you, I have a strong team of high calibre prosecutors. What I am doing is to make the team even better. These measures are just the first in a long-term drive to improve the quality of rape prosecutions, so that you can feel confident that the Crown Prosecution Service is determined to deal properly with the devastating offence of rape.

Photo caption: Chief Crown Prosecutor of Thames Valley, Baljit Ubhey