CPS Wessex successfully prosecutes more Violence Against Women and Girls Crimes during 2015-2016

06/09/2016

"CPS Wessex convicted 5.8 per cent more perpetrators of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) crimes in 2015-2016 compared to the previous year, demonstrating our commitment to achieving justice for these awful crimes" said Kate Brown Chief Crown Prosecutor, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Wessex (Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, and Wiltshire).

Following the publication of the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Report 2015 2016 Ms Brown said: "These crimes come with many complexities not only from an evidential position, but from victims, many of whom suffer considerable physical and emotional long lasting pain as a result of the abuse they have suffered making reporting and subsequently supporting a prosecution all the more difficult. It has therefore been pleasing to see that in the last year 69.4 per cent of defendants have pleaded guilty thereby removing the need for their victim to give evidence in court.

"In our commitment to supporting the effective prosecutions of rape and serious sexual offences cases we have increased the number of dedicated specialist prosecutors handling these cases, and with bespoke training we believe this has contributed to an 8.77 per cent increase in conviction rates for rape.

"I have met with a number of victims of domestic and sexual abuse to hear about their experiences of the prosecution process to enable us to learn and improve our service to all victims and witnesses. Together with victims, practitioners and our scrutiny panel I have undertaken a scrutiny of our communications to victims in these insidious cases to ensure that we are providing the right level of information in the most sensitive manner, as a result we have issued guidance to be followed when communicating decisions to victims.

"In response to recommendations in the Henriques Report into the CPS handling of historical sexual abuse cases we have significantly improved the time taken to provide advice to the police, authorising the charging of suspects in such cases to under 28 days since December 2015. This thereby speeds up the prosecution process for victims enabling them to seek closure sooner.

"We have continued to lead the way with Police Officer colleagues in Hampshire piloting the use of Body Worn Video in domestic callouts, providing us with compelling evidence to put before the court to strengthen domestic abuse prosecutions, which has been successfully utilised in cases where the victim has felt unable to support the prosecution.

"During the year we have continued through the Local Criminal Justice Boards to operate a multi-agency approach to progressing domestic abuse cases through the courts, aspiring to conclude contested cases with 28 days of the first hearing. We are achieving this across much of Wessex and continue to work to achieve this fully".

Jacki Tapley, Independent Facilitator, CPS Wessex Violence Against Women and Girls Scrutiny Panel said: "The increase in convictions and guilty pleas for VAWG cases reflects the commitment of CPS Wessex to pursue often difficult and complex cases. This determination is further evidenced following the scrutiny of case files, when the Panel raises issues and these are fed back to prosecutors and acted upon".