CPS Wessex prosecutes more Violence against Women and Girls cases in 2014

02/07/2014

"It is crucial for us that all victims of violence, and in particular victims of domestic violence, sexual offences and rape, have confidence that such pernicious crimes will be prosecuted", said Kate Brown, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex following the publication of the CPS Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Crime Report 2014.

Ms Brown said: "We have seen the number of cases increasing from 4,275 for the period 2012-2013 to 4,566 for 2013-2014 which means that we are bringing more cases before the courts.

"When we decide whether or not to prosecute a case we apply the Code for Crown Prosecutors -there must be sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and it has to be in the public interest. Each case is considered on its merit and we work closely with the police to ensure that we present the best possible case before the court.

"Victims and witnesses of these crimes want reassurance that offences committed against them will be brought to justice. These types of cases are complex and sensitive and can result in an acquittal for various reasons.

"This year we have seen our conviction rate slightly dropping in relation to domestic violence and sexual offences and we have observed a more considerable drop in rape conviction. This decrease can be explained by different reasons such as more jury acquittals and more cases where we had to stop the case due to witnesses who later decided that they could not go through with the court process.

"Last year we set up Violence against Women and Girls Panel made of members of the community who look at our finalised cases. The panel provides a valuable help in advising how we need to improve our work and our services to victims and witnesses. In addition we are also working very closely with experts from agencies such as Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCS), the police and the courts to see how we can improve our conviction rate and deliver a high quality service to victims and witnesses.

"For instance, the use of Body Worn Video carried by the police when they attend the scene of a crime contributes greatly to strengthening the evidence in domestic violence cases as it shows the demeanour of the defendant at the time of the offence. It might also show live the injuries made to the victim, which is always more powerful than still images.

"Although there is never place for complacency we are pleased that increases in prosecution in these types of cases mean a raised awareness.

"This national report shows the highest ever recorded conviction rate for domestic violence prosecutions. It is a great achievement for the CPS, which is determined to prosecute vigorously these types of crime."

Dr Jacki Tapley, Associate Head of the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, Portsmouth University, and Chair of CPS Wessex Violence against Women and Girls Scrutiny Panel said:

"The increase in reporting of cases to the police is encouraging as it reflects an increasing confidence in the response of the police, but to maintain this confidence criminal justice professionals, including the judiciary, need to ensure that cases are dealt with appropriately and swiftly, to ensure the greater protection of victims. This requires victims to be kept updated and informed at all stages of the criminal process and to be provided with appropriate levels of support to keep them safe."