Gwent CPS improving services to victims of rape

06/09/2010

Gwent CPS has outlined the improvements the service is making in the way it handles rape cases.

As a result of the changes, the CPS in Gwent is now taking more rape cases to court and achieving more successful convictions. In 2009/10, 69 rape cases were taken to court, compared with 46 cases the previous year - an increase of 50%.  Successful convictions also rose over the same period, from 29 to 38.

Kath Coleman, sexual offences specialist for CPS Gwent, said:

"Rape is one of the most serious and damaging offences, but there is no escaping the fact that it is also one of the most difficult to prosecute.

"The CPS has been working closely alongside our partners in the police to improve the way we handle cases and, crucially, the service we provide to victims.

"We now have specialist prosecutors who focus on sexual offences cases. These experts receive extra training to help them support victims and make sure that we review and prepare cases thoroughly and then present them robustly but fairly in court.

"Our prosecutors now take much more time to meet with victims prior to any court proceedings, to explain the processes involved.  We are increasingly utilising 'special measures', which can mean that victims are spared the trauma of having to face the defendant in court. We also now work much more closely alongside local support agencies such as Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs).

"We want to ensure that conviction rates for rape offences improve. To do that, we are determined to make sure we explore all avenues of evidence and support victims to give their best evidence. The verdict must then be left to a jury.

"Our efforts are starting to see results in terms of the number of rape cases that are taken to court. In Gwent, over the space of a year we have seen a rise of 50% in the number of rape cases taken to court. That means that more offenders are now being brought to justice.

"Our focus remains on making sure that victims feel able to come forward and report incidents, in the knowledge that they will be treated fairly by the criminal justice system."